Profile: Hope Wolman '93
Wolman’s marketing expertise keeps the Joffrey Ballet
in the spotlight
'93 has been studying dance most of her life, but it was her
inventive approach to marketing that landed her a job at one
of the world’s most prestigious dance companies.
joining the Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet as director of marketing
and public relations in 2003, she’s used her varied
marketing experience to find new ways to attract audiences.
recent initiatives have included rebranding the company by
creating a new logo and marketing materials to reach a younger
audience, overhauling the pricing structure of seats to optimize
revenue and securing a major grant from a local Fortune 500
speak for themselves: In fall 2003, the Joffrey sold a record
number of tickets, and Wolman’s subscription campaign
for the 2004-2005 season resulted in a double-digit percent
increase in renewals.
role is the latest in a career that’s produced cutting-edge
marketing and lifestyle branding aimed at women.
first job after graduating from Kellogg was in strategic marketing
at the Home Shopping Network, a move that baffled some of
her professors and classmates.
was a $900-million industry, but it didn’t have the
same prestige as working for Procter & Gamble or McKinsey,”
was a “direct marketing machine” where Wolman
saw the results of her work in real time. “You could
see instant consumer response to pricing and styling. You
could see which sentence of the salesperson’s pitch
moved the most merchandise.”
gained experience in the nascent field of online retailing,
as HSN acquired auction sites during the Internet’s
experience in more traditional retail channels, Wolman took
a job at The Limited in 1996. At the time, the company had
11operating units, including Express, Structure and Lane Bryant.
Limited was all about running with new ideas with a strong
upside and pushing you to the edge of your skill set.”
she marketed to twentysomething men with movie tie-ins and
cross-promotion with men’s magazines. For Express, she
oversaw the installation of a wall of video screens in select
stores. A scaled-down version was eventually implemented at
locations across the country.
day you’re focusing on helping working women feel glamorous;
the next day you’re worried about how to converse in
a meaningful way with 8-year-old girls,” says Wolman.
Wolman took a business development job at a startup called
WeddingChannel.com. There she cut deals to monetize every
step in every industry that touches wedding planning. After
a brief stint at a B-to-B software company, Wolman joined
Delia’s, a mostly online purveyor of trendy teen clothing
for girls. She found inventive ways to tune into the tastes
of the brand’s demographic, including attending cheerleading
camp and forming a focus group of 90 girls. “Most of
them had my IM address, which was very counterproductive during
the work day,” Wolman remembers.
joined the Joffrey in 2003, she didn’t consider it much
of a departure from her previous career.
Joffrey is like a startup. You’re resource-constrained
and it’s small, so you’re often doing things beyond
your formal area of expertise,” she says.
also a lifestyle brand. And while subscribers are frequently
couples, it’s usually women driving the purchase.
Wolman considers working at the Joffrey a dream job —
“I get to watch 45 Olympic-level athletes defy the laws
of physics every day!” — it’s not without
challenges. One hurdle is convincing people that they don’t
need a formal understanding of ballet to enjoy the show.
is “sheer beauty in motion,” Wolman says. “It
can be incredibly sensual and fun and I think people don’t