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The Womenomics of Cleo and Catherine


23 May 2011

Late April sparked some interesting womenomics* inspired TV viewing.

Firstly on ABC TV Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo the story of how journalist and editor, Ita Buttrose and heir to Australia’s most powerful publishing family, Kerry Packer, started Cleo magazine in 1972. Once you peeled back the layers of fabbo 70s fashion, scenes of Ita as happy housewife, cooking and sewing away and squeamish patriarchal workplace practices, the show was a great case in point for womenomics.

They were able to build an Australian magazine icon by tapping into the mood of the time and facing issues with what would have felt like being hit by a Mac truck. They delivered, women responded, Ita benefited ... as did the Packer empire. I wonder if women’s magazine sales jumped after the show going to air? What about a spike in op shop sales with women hunting down 70s glam? How many women Googled ‘Ita’?

Regardless, it was a camp reminder to know your market place, take a risk and be prepared to back yourself.  
The same could be said for the other riveting bit of April telly ... that little Royal Wedding of Kate and Wills. It provided a public holiday for some and a chance to frock up and dig into Coronation Chicken, cucumber sandwiches and champers for others. For some, the wedding reinforced the love for Queen and country, reignited the Australian republican debate or provided sheer, blissful escapism in the dream that one day every girl’s prince will come.
The wedding gave us everything. A universal female sigh of relief that the bride looked lovely, thought white was an interesting choice for brideslave Pippa and regret for not having trees in their own church wedding. The only blip on the radar was Princess Lovie’s millinery selection [you know the one, it looked like a crab doing a back flip onto her head] ... Ahh well.
The womenomic impact was immediate with unprecedented global social media trending, insane traditional media coverage, increased tourism to London, sale of kitch merchandise and the obligatory special edition newspapers and magazines. Women drive the short-term inhalation of these goodies and it will be women who drive the long term economic impact of the Royal Wedding, with the clear long term winner being the already multi-million dollar bridal industry.

Regardless, we’ve created a monster. The short and long term financial outcomes indicate that Team Royal Wedding got it right ... they delivered on our expectations and we’re buying it.
How did they know what women wanted to experience before we did?
If they got it wrong, what would have been the global impact on the sale of mags and merchandise?
I wonder what the world would be like if Cleo failed and Ita was sent packing?
And just to ensure everything comes full circle, Ita was sent over to cover the wedding...
* Womenomics is the supply and demand of women as employees, consumers, investors, board members and business owners.