Memo Pad: Franca's Coda

Franca Sozzani's given free rein to photographer Bruce Weber, who filled L’Uomo Vogue’s December issue with a 100-plus page portfolio.

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STILL ON TRACK: VF Corp.’s Wrangler is expected to reveal today that it has re-signed NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. to his sixth annual contract to represent the Wrangler Jeans Co. brand across all marketing initiatives in 2009. However, it has decided to exit its sponsorship of Earnhardt Jr.’s actual racing team at Hendrick Motorsports, meaning the Wrangler brand will no longer adorn the “88” car.

Earnhardt Jr. will continue to appear in advertising, in-store signage, product ticketing and consumer promotions for the brand. Wrangler Jeans Co. is sold in the mass market channel, including Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Shopco and Pamida. The jeans sell for less than $20. Earnhardt Jr. has represented the brand since 2004, prior to which Wrangler had a long-standing endorsement deal with his late father, racing legend Dale Earnhardt. Craig Errington, vice president of marketing at Wrangler, said the decision to exit the Hendrick Motorsports deal was due to “strategic and budgetary” considerations.

Another sports superstar, New York Jet Brett Favre, will continue to represent the Wrangler Five Star brand, which is also sold in the mass channel but whose customer base skews older than Wrangler Jeans Co. The Wrangler brand rings up annual total retail sales of $1.7 billion, according to VF Corp. — David Lipke

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