Good Housekeeping to Put Its Institute on Exhibit

Three years ago, Good Housekeeping began a sweeping effort to revitalize the image of its 124-year-old brand. It updated its consumer product test lab and redesigned its famous Good Housekeeping seal of approval that guarantees reliability of the products advertised in the magazine. It has given the test lab more prominence in the magazine and even signed designer Isaac Mizrahi to redesign the white lab coats worn by its testers.

Yet execs at the Hearst Magazines title felt they still needed to do more to raise awareness of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, which sets the title apart from other mass women’s service magazines.

“Our unique selling proposition is that we have the institute and seal along with the magazine,” said Pat Haegele, senior vp, publisher of Good Housekeeping. “It has enormous recognition. But when you ask [people] about the institute, the depth and breadth of what it does, it’s not as well recognized.”

So this year, when the seal marks its 100th anniversary, Good Housekeeping will take the institute on the road with an interactive model of the test lab itself. The traveling exhibit, designed by marketing firm Human Condition, recreates the lab where products from vacuum cleaners to frozen pizza are put through battery of tests.

“When we told consumers what we did there, there was this awe factor,” Haegele said. “And telling them was not the same as showing them.”

Visitors will be able to interact with the magazine’s experts and see samples of tests. The exhibit is tentatively set to visit 12 cities including Tampa, Fla., Dallas and Chicago between September and May 2010.

Haegele said the sponsors—Ikea, Alli, Bissell, Culligan, Greenworks, Lubriderm and Protect-A-Bed—are committing $2.2 million worth of ad pages to the magazine in addition to paying sponsorship fees, which she would not disclose.

Good Housekeeping also is opening the institute itself at New York’s Hearst Tower to the public for tours.

The interactive tour will kick off as Good Housekeeping gets ready to make substantial changes to the magazine itself. It will cut its rate base to 4.3 million from 4.6 million while increasing its trim size by 10 percent and its cover price to $3.49 from $2.50 in 2010, when the magazine turns 125.