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This Year's Model

Adages has been closely following the rise of The Big Richards, who played at Manhattan's Continental Club recently. The band members are employees of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in New York. They are Jenny Katz, Graham Woodall, Brad Stratton and Adam Regan, plus Brian Jones of Bang Music. It was a spirited and well-received show, the third live outing by this 10-month-old group. Do they have legs? Ms. Katz, lead vocalist, certainly does, and she has a great voice, but the question is: Will the Big Richards go all the way? Will they score a record contract? Can advertising people actually shed their gray flannel suits and slip on the glittering sequins of rock stardom? There are rumors circulating that Lee Garfinkel, D'Arcy's new chief creative honcho and a musician by hobby, plans to join the band. Lee is a legend in his own right and may add that special luster to the group. He does, after all, bear a striking resemblance to Sonny Bono.

Lee tells Adages. "I told Graham I play guitar and drums and maybe we'll jam together someday, but I doubt if I'll have the time to join them officially."

The Big Richards are not without precedent. In 1984, Jim Clash, an account executive at Grey Advertising, put together a new wave combo called the "The Mnemonics," whose members all worked at the agency. They were Bob Morais, Phil Shaw, Jennifer Hoadley and Holly Stevens, and those were the days when all you had to do to be cool was wear dorky dark sunglasses. The band proved to be a hit on Madison Ave., but in order to broaden their audience, the group took a new name, "The VPs," and developed a niche in "business rock." For instance, their signature song "Madison Avenue Man," sung to the tune of "Secret Agent Man," ("Careful what you say/You'll lose your account today/Odds are you'll be on the street tomorrow") got some radio play. Mr. Clash left his ad job in 1987 to manage the band after the group landed $100,000 in financing from investment bank D.H. Blair. His advice to the Richards: "Be wary," says Mr. Clash. "The music business is a lot of hype. But your marketing prowess will be an advantage."

Such prowess was not enough for the VPs, however. They split up in 1988. "After the market crashed in 1987, people didn't think we were funny," says Mr. Clash, who now writes about money and investing for Forbes magazine.

No Action

Adages has heard that the October issue of Shape was supposed to feature a cover shot of supermodel Heidi Klum dappled with paint-and little else. But Weider Publications executives were said to be nervous that a virtually naked supermodel would create parental complaints through its biggest distributors, the heartland retailers Wal-Mart and Kmart, and pulled the cover. The issue, which is now out, focuses on natural beauty and natural fitness and the cover features a standard-and somewhat more clothed-blonde model. A Weider spokeswoman could not be reached for comment at press time.

Contributing: Lisa Sanders and Wayne Friedman

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