Friday, 1 June 2007

Hot off the cattywalk?

The editorial staff at Emirates Today seems to have really got its Agent Provocateur knickers in a twist over the comments of Conde Nast chairman Jonathan Newhouse, who rejected requests to licence its title Vogue to an unnamed "Middle East media company", which proposed an Arabic version.

The horror and revulsion positively drips off the page.. but on closer examination, does Newhouse have a point? After all, he claims that there was an element in the Middle East that rejects freedom of expression, equality for women and expression of sexuality, and that he didn't want to risk provoking a negative, even violent reaction.

The comments are spot on, and factually correct. All of those points do exist in the Middle East, whether we like it or not. Emirates Today's inflammatory headline ("VOGUE CHAIRMAN SAYS "NO" TO MUSLIMS") is misrepresentative and over the top.

Could it be a case of sour grapes and that the paper's owner, AMG, was the unsuccessful applicant for the franchise? Somehow, I can't see any of the other publishing houses leaking Newhouse's emails to ET.

9 comments:

effigy_burner said...

Oh, that's beautiful. Let's see the entire Western press splash with: "MUSLIMS SAY 'NO' TO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING YOU CARE TO MENTION, INCLUDING REPORTING THE FACTS"

As the Pakistani minister put it so well recently: 'To suggest that Islam is not a tolerant religion is an incitement to violence', without even a flicker of irony.

The Muslim world has a fair bit of catching up to do. ABout 650 years I think.

Anonymous said...

it IS their brand and they have the right to do with it as they wish...

anyway how could vogue possibly slip under the radar, especially if any distribution goes into KSA?

Anonymous said...

Damned if you do and damned if you don't with ET once again not so gently fanning the flames. The bloke's got a point.

Remember the clearing of shop shelves and ranting and raving with hell and damnation over a cartoon?

Desert Orchid said...

Newhouse was spot on, and the real telling comment was "it is not worth a few million for a licensing deal". How many publishers would be so honest? You can also bet that he had taken some good advice before coming to this decision. Vogue can see the potential cost to its reputation of being pilloried in Islam, and wants nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

The founder of the dynasty was Solomon Neuhaus, later Samuel Newhouse. The clue as to why they might not be that interested in involving themselves in Arab countries is kind of in the name...

Anonymous said...

I can completely understand Vogue not wanting to be part of the Middle Eastern market while archaic attitudes to women and sexuality prevail, thus compromising creativity and freedom of expression. Or perhaps Vogue has witnessed the sad degeneration of Grazia out here. The trashy, crappy Middle Eastern version is so far removed from the high end, high fashion Italian original that it is not surprising rumours have abounded that Mondadori, the Italian parent company, is horrified. Perhaps, based on the Grazia example, Vogue doesn't want to turn the brand into a celeb-goss-crapfest in the name of selling copies out here.

DubaiBabyBlog said...

I agree totally with Newhouse. It's his brand and his decision. If he doesn't want to come here, he doesn't have to come here - and personally I think his reasons are reasonable. It's just not worth the potential hassle and he doesn't need the money. Fair play.

BUT his mistake was to explain his reasons in so much detail to a wannabee business partner with no integrity, who saw nothing wrong with splashing the sensationalised story over the front pages.

Perhaps a simple, 'We're not interested at this time' would have sufficed.

Anonymous said...

The one good thing out of this, for those with no real love for AMG at least, is that other respected publishers are going to think twice before entering into any kind of agreement with them. Abdul Latif may well be feeling pretty pleased with himself, thinking that he showed Vogue, but I've a feeling it will come back to haunt him.

Still, it doesn't exactly prove wrong those in more developed markets who think everyone in the media industry here is a bunch of junkers.

Anonymous said...

I work for a Newhouse-owned publication and used to work in Dubai. To whichever commentator suggested there's some correlation between the 'no' and Newhouse's religion....please. In the US, we tend not to make business decisions based on religion alone. Most likely, Si looked for a competent media company in Dubai -- and found none.