Tuesday, April 13, 2010

good housekeeping brings down the house at city center

When I was growing up, reading Good Housekeeping was a source of titillation to me because my mother had declared it off-limits to kids. (Presumably not for its recipes, but because of its frank advice on marriage and other womanly topics that these days are included in lower school curriculums.)

Because of this, and also because I've been a longtime cheerleader of women making their mark (in prehistoric 90s, I helped launch the first Take Our Daughters to Work Day) I was gratified that @BettyDraper and I had the chance to attend Good Housekeeping's 125th anniversary celebration at City Center where glitterati gathered last night for "Shine On: Celebrating 125 Years of Women Making Their Mark", a benefit to build the first National Women's History Museum.

On stage, Meryl Streep channeled Susan B. Anthony; Marlee Matlin delivered a tribute to Helen Keller in sign language; Fran Drescher stole the show with her grab bag of impersonations, including a human rights worker from India, a young Latina with stage-fright, and a Jewish grandmother to whom a desktop is "a place to put your napkin." The program included songs, performances and video tributes from Jessica Simpson, Jane Alexander, Kristen Bell, Candice Bergen, Hilary Duff, Nora Ephron, Marlo Thomas, Martha Stewart, Ann Hampton Calloway and wrapped with a rousing rendition of "Respect" from Aretha Franklin who received a standing ovation for belting it out while floating across stage in what appeared to be a gown of white feathers.

The show was actually branded entertainment, sponsored by Maybelline which donated $50K to the cause and did a bit of sampling while offering free makeup touches to the incoming audience. The one-night production honored women from all walks: from oft-lauded names like Sally Ride and Margaret Mead to lesser knowns like Joan Ganz Cooney (founder Children's TV Workshop) and Virginia Apgar (neonatologist) to names I'd never heard of, pointing up to me the need for a commemorative museum.

Perhaps as a sign of recessionary times, no party bags, natch, just giveaways of the latest issue which honors 125 women in a special section sponsored by Maybelline. (A choice of two covers. One featuring a headshot of Michele Obama so enthusiastically photoshopped that it has evoked a bit of foam in the twitstream.)

Branded efforts for a publication across multiple platforms might seem like a post-millennial concept but, as Stuart Elliott reminded recently, it harkens back to the 1970s, when Fortune magazine hired the cabaret act Weeden, Finkle & Fay to write and perform travelling shows to generate goodwill for its advertisers⎯and additional ad pages.


California Girl said...

Sounds like a great evening to me with that much womanly talent on stage and in the audience. You get to have all the fun!

I always read Mother's mags and she took 'em all...except Redbook. I recall GH, McCalls, LHJ, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens and there was at least one other. I think they were all subscription except Family Circle which she'd buy at the checkout stand in the grocery. I usually did the grocery shopping with her too. She only liked to go once a week and she LOADED the cart.

Thanks for the memory.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

It was a fab event @California Girl. Wish you'd been there. Funny about your mom not taking Redbook. Mine didn't either. It was considered too "racy" ;)