Here's to articles in The Times we can't quite forget...
A May 8 article in The New York Times is a tremendous example of ‘repurposing’ a Brand for an evolving market. The article reports on The Ziegfeld Club (on the fifth floor of a Presbyterian Church on East 64th Street!), the last vestige of that once legendary entertainment juggernaut. Founded by Billie Burke, Ziegfeld's widow, its purpose was "to help support Ziegfeld Girls who had fallen on hard times." Many, perhaps most, had. But, the last one died in 2010 at age 106. So what to do?
How many meetings have we all been in where the brief explains, "We lose another consumer every time a hearse goes by, but we're not replacing them." The Ziegfeld Club is the poster child of that woe. Or it would have been if the stewards of the Club hadn't decided to reinterpret the mission: Help actresses at the ends of their careers, yes, of course. But also help them as they launch their professional lives. Do both and up the ante some more: Fight sexism in the theatre. Whoosh! We can see how they got there from impoverished, aging Ziegfeld girls, but doesn't it seem wonderfully 'now.'
How to deliver? Reinvigorate the Brand with equal parts heritage and contemporary relevance. The Ziegfeld DNA was honored by hosting the event at the New Amsterdam Theatre -- home to the Ziegfeld Follies from 1907 to 1927 -- while featuring classic show tunes and actresses in the authentic costumes of 'Flo's girls.'
Acknowledge and restate the root stock, charmingly.
Point 2: Bring it powerfully forward by asking Jeanine Tesoir (composer of "Fun Home," the hottest ticket of this year) to be the keynote. Who better to articulate the vision of the newly re-imagined Club?
Find a point on the near horizon to work towards: The club's 80th birthday next April will build the emotional, cultural and social relevance of a once dusty Brand into a Broadway lightening rod.