New York -- In a further sign of the strong matchmaking
potential between media giants and bricks-and-mortar retailers, NBC and Polo Ralph Lauren
announced their newly formed partnership last week, Ralph Lauren Media.
The new company plans to launch a Polo.com Web site in the
fourth quarter of this year as its first media property.
Ralph Lauren Media may also develop magazines, movies and
television programming in the future, Polo Ralph Lauren CEO Ralph Lauren said at a press
conference here last Monday.
Lauren, who guest-starred on a popular NBC sitcom earlier
this season, jokingly told reporters to throw away their press releases because his real
agreement with the network was that "I'm going to be the head of Friends."
Two NBC-affiliated companies -- ValueVision International
Inc. and NBC Internet Inc. (NBCi) -- are also involved in the partnership, which plans a
strong electronic-commerce component.
The 30-year deal gives Polo Ralph Lauren 50 percent
ownership of Ralph Lauren Media, with the other one-half split between NBC (25 percent),
ValueVision (12.5 percent), NBCi (10 percent) and CNBC.com (2.5 percent).
NBC CEO Bob Wright vowed to put the advertising and
promotional muscle of NBC's broadcast, cable and Internet properties behind the new
venture. NBC has already committed to supporting Polo.com with $110 million in television
and online advertising.
"NBC used to be in the business of gathering an
audience and letting others sell to that audience," NBCi president Marty Yudkovitz
said. "This is the new model of a media company. If you gather a large audience, why
should you stop at developing a brand?"
Polo.com will sell Polo Ralph Lauren clothing and
home-fashion products at the same prices as it does at its 26 Polo stores around the
world. "We're not only selling clothes," Lauren said. "We're selling a
dream, a vision."
"We're going to entertain you" with unique
content on Polo.com, Wright said. "There's enough broadband capacity coming out to
bring film and short-form video" to the Web site, he added.
NBCi's Snap portal will give Polo.com an anchor position on
its shopping service. The ValueVision home shopping channel will provide fulfillment for
Janco Partners analysts Ted Henderson and Stacy Forbes
restated a "buy" recommendation on ValueVision on the news last week.
Jeff Morgan will be CEO of Ralph Lauren Media, which will
be based here. He had been worldwide publisher of Men's Health magazine. David
Lauren, Ralph's son and former editor in chief of Swing magazine, will be the
venture's creative director.
Morgan said original content created for the Web site would
encourage visitors to return on a regular basis, just as they might with a favorite