Good Housekeeping’s ‘Kitchen of the Future’ Could Also Be the Future of Content Marketing

A swank new space for food shoots doubles as an event and promotional venue

Courtesy of Good Housekeeping

When Jane Francisco joined Good Housekeeping as its new editor in chief four years ago, she didn’t just take the helm of one of publishing’s oldest and most revered women’s service magazines, she assumed control of the magazine’s famous test kitchen. A glass-walled space with white cabinets and appliances of brushed stainless steel, the kitchen commands a corner perch of the Hearst Tower’s 29th floor and is among the most frenetic kitchens in Manhattan.

Jane Francisco
Courtesy of Good Housekeeping

Moving under a cloud of steam among the maze of countertops, the magazine’s cooks and editors develop all of the recipes for the magazine, over 1,200 of them a year. It’s a staggering job that not only entails 16 weeks of development for each dish, but purchasing over $2,200 (every month) worth of groceries, conducting over 140 taste tests and washing upwards of 6,500 dishes. Keeping it all going is, in the words of food director Susan Westmoreland, like “solving a puzzle.”

But to Francisco’s eye, the kitchen wasn’t just a puzzle—it was a packed house. The magazine not only developed and cooked all of its recipes in its test kitchen, it photographed everything in there, too, and things could get pretty tangled up. Cooks would be cooking while, just feet away, the staff photographer was trying to arrange the beauty shots.

One day, watching this culinary snarl in progress, Francisco thought: “We need a better space.” And, as she explained to a visitor to the 29th floor on a recent morning, “That was where it started.”

The “it” she’s referring to is the Kitchen of the Future, Good Housekeeping’s name for its new and expansive space just next door to its test kitchen. As the name suggests, the facility showcases cutting-edge appliances—all of which are furnished by German manufacturer Miele—that aim to improve kitchen life in the years to come (more about that later.)

Yuliya Kim for Adweek

But the airy new suite is also a window into the evolution of a 132-year-old publishing brand as it works to satisfy the evolving expectations of its readers while also creating a new vehicle for branding and marketing at a time when advertising revenues don’t just roll in the door like they used to. The 728-square-foot facility doesn’t just feature an ample countertop set with futuristic gadgetry, it boasts a long and slender dining table with room to comfortably seat 16 people. When the 23-by-32-foot room is not being used for photo shoots, Francisco envisions it as a web-ready event space, a stylish expanse where Good Housekeeping will bring together advertisers, choice readers, journalists and social-media influencers together under one high-rise roof.

Like many magazines, Good Housekeeping has realized that creating events—and, specifically, branding those events with the publication’s widely respected name—can present new promotional and revenue opportunities. Good Housekeeping had done some of this in the past year inside its original test kitchen (having, say, a wine partner introduce its new varietals along with suitably paired dishes). But that space wasn’t just constrained in terms of the number of guests it could accommodate, the atmosphere of an active kitchen limited the ambiance it was possible to create.

Yuliya Kim for Adweek

With the new space (strategically connected to the test kitchen via a discreet side door), the opportunities are much broader.

“When we’re not shooting in here, we can have functions,” explained Francisco, sitting at the table over an array of fresh-baked breads that had just emerged from the ovens next door. “We can have readers come in here, and we can actually broadcast. We can do Facebook Live. We can create content [with] guests and with our own VIPs and partners.”

Apart from the most obvious benefits of content creation and event-based marketing, the new space accomplishes something else for Good Housekeeping that’s less visible but equally important. Because it shares the 29th floor with the Good Housekeeping Institute—myriad laboratories that test tens of thousands of consumer products a year for the coveted Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval—the Kitchen of the Future accentuates the magazine’s position not just as an editorial voice, but as a hands-on institution and consumer advocate.