Oct 24

An Excessive Wardrobe Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Guest blog by Laura MillsShopping_spree

Evidenced by my guest RepMan post discussing Project Runway, it’s safe to say that I’m a fan of fashion.  So, during my morning scan of yesterday’s headlines, an article in the New York Times caught my eye : “$150,000 Wardrobe for Palin May Alter Tailor-Made Image.”

$150K Wardrobe.  Wait, WHAT?!

I have no doubt that Mrs. Palin needed some new clothes for the campaign, but that is such an amazing amount of money, it’s practically an economic stimulus for Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.  That’s equivalent to about 125 Jimmy Choo handbags, 190 pairs of Manolo Blahniks, or 234 Brooks Brothers suits.

The political implications aside, does it really require $150,000 to dress in a way that communicates success?  Not in my experience.

Each month, I volunteer as a personal shopper with Dress for Success, where I assist women who are trying to make strides towards financial independence by re-entering the work force.  I work with the women to pick out interview attire that fits appropriately and, most importantly, makes them feel good about themselves.  The majority of the clothes are donations, and while I occasionally stumble upon a Calvin Klein suit or Prada pumps in the shop, most of the time the ladies walk away with outfits originally from off-the-rack retailers like the Gap or Dress Barn. 

These women look good, no matter where their suit came from, because they are put together and dressed for their body type in an outfit that makes them feel empowered.  Whether you are dressing the part for a television appearance or a job interview at JCPenny, that confidence is the asset that has the strongest correlation with personal success. It is your most important accessory, and you can’t buy it.  Not even for $150,000.

Jan 11

Promotional Darwinism Emerges from Writers Strike

Guest blog written by Laura Mills.

I am annoyed by this writers strike.  Like many, I want my “Grey’s Anatomy.”  I want my “Office.”  And IHershey
really want my new season of “24.”  Instead, we’re stuck watching reruns and increasingly mindless reality television (“American Gladiators,” anyone?), while contemplating the rapid depreciation of TiVo…

This week, Reuters reports that NBC is offering to refund some Golden Globe Awards marketers after scrapping the traditional telecast.  Disappointing news for a bored America, but let’s be honest.  As the Reuters story shows, the strike by the Writer’s Guild of America isn’t just our issue.  It’s putting marketers in a very unique situation.  As we follow coverage of the strike with hopeful anticipation, other news outlets report the increasing potential for an economic recession.  I think marketers are secretly over the moon to have a reason to cut back on broadcast spending, harboring an attitude of “let’s store the harvest and get ready for a chilly winter.”  Everyone knows that in the face of recession, marketing budgets are the first to be trimmed.  But alternately, I think the writers strike also provides a great opportunity. 

With the promise of hours of reality television in primetime, branded sponsorships are inevitable.  For example, a recent episode of Bravo’s “Project Runway” featured a design challenge sponsored by Hershey’s.  Models and sample sizes generally aren’t associated with Reese’s Pieces and Twizzlers, but they made it work.  Hershey’s allowed the designers to run loose in their Times Square store and pillage as much candy and merchandise as they could for use as materials in their garments.  It was brilliant, and even I’ll admit to craving a Kit Kat at the show’s conclusion.  If we’re going to see more of these types of promotions, I would hope for more out of the box thinking like Hershey’s and “Project Runway.”  In fact, here are some unexpected sponsorships that I would like to see:

• “The Apprentice” and the NCAA (Imagine Tim Tebow in the board room)

• “Dancing with the Stars” and Playstation (Think: Dance, Dance Revolutions)

• “Survivor” and Band-Aid

Joking aside, I expect to witness savvy brands distinguishing themselves from their competitors as they leverage the current broadcast landscape.  In many ways, it is its own sort of reality show.  Will you be watching?