Does Harvard Business School know about this?
L.L. Knickerbocker Co. could be the first publicly held company with a director who has posed nude for a national magazine.
No kidding. The distinction could be theirs if actress Farrah Fawcett, of the golden locks and double-wide smile, reaches an agreement with Playboy magazine to publish photos of her taken, sans pinstripes, on a Caribbean island.
Fawcett, 48, is a director and shareholder of Knickerbocker, a newly public company in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Knickerbocker, a highflier on the stock market this summer, sells collectible dolls designed by celebrities, such as Marie Osmond, among other goods.
It’s an eye-popper of a development in a starched-shirt corporate world.
“Boards of directors are supposed to be models of conduct,” sniffed an indignant John Nash, president of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Washington, D.C. “The company may revel in the publicity, but I don’t think the parents (of children who might want Knickerbocker’s dolls) would. Her actions could have a public impact upon the company.”
Others, especially Californians, were more easygoing.
“Oh. Farah Fawcett? Now if you would have said (apparel executive) Linda Wachner or (former U.S. Trade Representative) Carla Hills, I would have been fascinated,” said Judy Rosener, senior lecturer at University of California, Irvine, who has written extensively on women in management. “For a movie star to be in Playboy is consistent, but the question for me is, ‘Why is she on the board?”’
“I doubt it will create any serious embarrassments other than a cheap shot at the annual shareholders meeting,” said Gary Liebl of Santa Ana, who is chairman of two companies and sits on nine boards. A shareholder is bound to ask, “Why is a Playboy Playmate on the board?”
Over at L.L. Knickerbocker, no one apologized for Fawcett, her full disclosure or her business acumen - in fact, executives had a few revelations of their own.
“(Her posing) raises no concerns for me at all,” said Chairman Louis Knickerbocker. “She informed me and gave me a preview of the pictures.”
He saw them? “The photos in my opinion are tastefully done. She is on a beach. Laying near the water. She is completely nude and I think the public will be very pleased.”
As it turns out, Fawcett and Knickerbocker have a long business relationship. They were partners in a company that marketed reproductions of her jewelry via Home Shopping Network in 1988 and 1989. Five shows, hosted by Fawcett, grossed $22.5 million in network sales, Knickerbocker said.
More Fawcett products are in the works. Knickerbocker is negotiating with her for a line of posters featuring Fawcett through the years, including, naturally, the stunning 1976 poster that made Fawcett, her hair and blow-drying a national phenomenon. The pictures would be posted on the Internet.
Knickerbocker concluded on a philosophical note: “The reality of today’s world is when you have liberated women, you can’t liberate them on one hand and clip their wings on another.”
Or enforce a dress code.
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