The Curious Case of the July Issue of ‘Harper’s Bazaar’

Something's fishy in the July issue of Harper's Bazaar, and it's because of Estée Lauder's new fragrance, Sensuous. It's not that the perfume itself smells bad — it's that the magazine devoted 40 editorial pages and the cover to the stars of the new Sensuous campaign, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Rhoda, Elizabeth Hurley, and Carolyn Murphy. Though there are no Estée Lauder ads in the July issue, the company is a major advertiser for the magazine, and ads are scheduled to run in the fall.

John Demsey, a group president at Estée Lauder Companies, got the idea to feature all four campaign stars in one magazine and pitched the feature to Bazaar because of its "Fabulous at Any Age" section (Rhoda is 21, Hurley is 43 — so it makes sense). Bazaar went for it because Gwyneth Paltrow sells and, in case you haven't heard, the economy isn't exactly rocking for mags with ad pages to sell. The fragrance industry is struggling as well, so a hard push like this is good for them too. And now they're getting even more free publicity. Everybody wins, hm?

A Cover, 40 Pages, 4 Faces and One Perfume [NYT]