Perfectly Imperfect Book Launch Party, The Bar At JWT, New York
April 21, 2009
Get ready to think I'm stupid. I've already been accused of some offensive stuff today so if you think I'm stupid, I see it as a step up, almost like an award. So, Matt Van Hoven, blogger over at mediabistro's AgencySpy used to tweet (you know this word by now, but in case you don't, it's a 140 character thought burp on Twitter) things like "Crashing the bar at JWT!" and I'd chortle self-consciously even when working from home alone because I had no idea what JWT was. Now look, I'm not ashamed to admit that when writing this column I don't necessarily know all the Adverland hierarchy and dirty tidbits and saucy scandals, and I kind of like to keep it that way -- it keeps me open and unguarded around people who work for "Super duper agency" and also keeps my brain from forming an opinion before the conversation begins. So it's almost OK that I thought JWT was a hotel and that Matt has a drinking problem that he quenches at the bar there. Long before last night I figured out the whole situation -- that JWT is one of "the bigguns," and I'm the one with the problem.
I walked by the building twice. Another notch in the stupid belt delivered by odd building numbering methodology. In big bold numbers, highly visible, was the sign "237 Park Atrium" or something similar. NOT 466 Lexington Ave, which is what I was looking for. I hope I'm not the only one who made that mistake. If I am, sue me, you'll get nothing. Up to level 2 we go, me and my lovely and talented Director of Marketing and Sales for Qwikker pal, Gail Hilton. We slipped through halls of various arty pieces and into the wide-open, color-splashed, glass-walled, oozy creative fondue pot of the JWT offices. My naïve eyes sparkled. This was what I thought of when I envisioned "working in advertising" when I was in high school.
Then, looking forward into the party, I felt very "Working Girl" (no, my Irish friends, not THAT kind of working girl). The blue-lit, whitely opaque bar, the tinkly glasses, the perfectly glossed lips, the suits, the smell of expensive cosmetics made me think it would be hard NOT to get caught up in yourself and in the culture of the advertising industry when you're surrounded by THIS. It felt decadent, intimidating, and tainted all at once.
Removing any taint from the party was the presence of the down to earth, come-to-my-house-for-Scrabble-night Lee Woodruff, author, Westchester mom and in case you didn't know it, wife of Bob Woodruff, brave "World News Tonight" anchor seriously injured while covering the Iraq war. It's obvious that from the moment of Bob's injury and on Lee's life as she knew it changed. Her book, "Perfectly Imperfect" chronicles her continuing life in progress as the healing continues. She's also a Twitter newbie trying to get comfortable with self-promoting, and I think soon "Lee Woodruff" will be a strong name that stands on its own.
For one, she's driven. As Co-Founder of ReMIND.org, a Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) Initiative, she's launching "Tweet to ReMIND " -- a Twitter-powered charity drive during Memorial Day weekend to raise over a million dollars to benefit injured service members, veterans and their families. For more, she's gently self-deprecating, which translates into relatably funny. She pumped up the goodie bags, which were filled with tubes of cosmetics because she understands the power of good makeup, "Yes, I got a zit, just in time for this important event," she laughed, while giving respect to her friend who dragged her into J.Crew, who urged, "You WILL wear this dress to your book party!" I'm still in shock that her sparkly, no-way-in-hell-can-I-afford-that- looking frock was from J.Crew. Without an anxious quiver in her voice, she spoke strongly from the stage about her life foibles that she shares in her book -- "a book that is meant to make you laugh out loud... because laughter simply feels good."
Woman's Day magazine hosted the event, so Chief Brand Officer Carlos Lamadrid was there (he intro'd Lee). Also in attendance was the always-smiling celebrity weatherman, Al Roker, who inspired my +1 Gail to say "I get dressed with you every morning" as I snapped their picture. Hanging out by the seriously cheese-ball-laden food spread was Peter Shankman from Help-A-Reporter-Out (HARO), while around the corner from the olive tray I found Andrea Faville from Cosmopolitan; Lisa Gruber, super-nice Porter Novelli rep; Emily Zanovich, also of Porter Novell; and Marisa Ollins from Marie Claire. And, happily posing for a photo and obviously warmly supporting Lee were Elena Nachmanoff from NBC and Susan Zirinsky from CBS.
Thanks to Porter Novelli, Woman's Day, and Lee Woodruff for the mac-n-cheese, the mascara, and Al Roker.
Oh, and it should be noted that when Lee mentioned "that show, about advertising" she was referring to "thirtysomething," a show that made me think the 30s were full of affairs, drugs, angst, and not so normal advertising careers -- not "Mad Men." Which made me like her even more.
May is looking PACKED, but send those invitations to firstname.lastname@example.org anyway!
*edited at 2:16PM to reflect Carlos' accurate title*