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Bringing jolly back

Bringing jolly back

Back at the turn of the last century, Estee Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder coined the term “lipstick index,” as a surefire economic indicator. His theory was that in times of economic hardship, women invested in glamorous, bright lipsticks as an affordable indulgence and a way to add a dash of color to the day-to-day grind. He had plenty of anecdotal evidence from the great depression, WWII and the 1980s to back him up…plus his own company’s present-day balance sheets.

As economics lessons go, I loved it. I still do, even though it was largely refuted in the last recession and eventually morphed into the far less insouciant-sounding “nail polish index.” The fact that it took on a life of its own only proves its Nobel-worthiness.

Best of all, in the tradition of all great theses, this year the lipstick index gets its very own antithesis: the corporate holiday party index. It states that as fiscal times improve, companies are more likely to invest in holiday parties.

This might sound like a pretty amateur syllogism, but there are real statistics behind it. According to an
annual survey of corporate America’s holiday party plans conducted by Battalia Winston, a global executive search firm, 96% of companies polled will have parties this year — the highest percentage since 1997, up from 91% in 2012, 74% in 2011, 79% in 2010, 81% in 2009, and 81% in 2008.

The reasons most companies gave for hosting – or for not doing so – were largely about sending a message. Nearly half (42%) said it was to boost morale, while 38% said it is to celebrate 2013 as a good year, and 7% to show employees and clients that they are optimistic about next year. Half of the companies that didn’t plan to host parties said that it was politically inappropriate, presumably in light of layoffs or cutbacks throughout the year.

While we all know of companies that host lavish bacchanalias featuring lots of alcohol and scandals that come back to haunt their participants every year like Marley’s ghost, some of our clients opt for smaller, more experiential events – whether sponsored by individual departments in a larger corporation or because the entire company’s size calls for something more intimate. For example, our office hosted a trolley tour of holiday lights for employees and their spouses, as well as an employee luncheon.

One of the Merry Maids franchises we work with brought their entire team to a local art studio to create original holiday artwork that they could then bring home. These events not only provide employees with a fun chance to connect outside the workplace, but they also can be posted on social media to highlight your strength as a team.

A holiday party is also a great opportunity to call out key players and accomplishments of the previous year – just as the Home Instead Senior Care office does during their annual party at a local country club.

But most of all, just like many other types of event marketing, holiday parties are memorable and a break from routine. Whether you use them to communicate something to your employees, your clients or a little bit of both, they definitely convey that your company has something to celebrate. And to that, we say, Cheers!


2 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Love Love Love the Lipstick Index! Let us all remember that no matter the economy, no matter the weather, no matter congress let’s get our lipstick on!

  2. Georgie Girl says:

    Great column, Jenna!

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