The Difference a Role Model Can Make (aka Happy International Women’s Day)

When I was a kid back in my hometown of Miami, a close family friend (and up until then, stay at home mom) partnered with a girlfriend of hers, went to work and started an advertising agency. Joyce Beber was a pioneer on the South Florida advertising scene. The work of the agency Beber Silverstein was provocative (Miami, See it Like a Native) award winning and even newsworthy.  Mrs. Beber had powerful joie de vivre, fierce intellect and fashion sense to impress.


The tuna sandwiches I had at her house were the same as at home, but they tasted better. At the Beber house, we never played with Barbie dolls, we always played CIA spy games. She inspired creativity. She used to say, “call me Aunt Joyful”.


That same lovely mother was a force at work.


The Beber Silverstein agency did work for the Helmsley Hotel group, and was hired — and fired — by hotelier Leona Helmsley on four separate occasions. Joyce had to file suit on three occasions just to get paid. In one of the firm's first meetings with Helmsley, Beber's conversation was interrupted by a call Mrs. Helmsley took from a hotel guest who had been dissatisfied with a noisy air conditioning unit, and they spoke about Helmsley's frustration with the inadequate quality of the towels the hotel provided. Beber used the conversation as the impetus to develop a campaign for Helmsley that featured her as "Queen of the Palace", carefully watching over every detail at the Harley Hotel in Manhattan. Advertising works. Occupancy shot up from 25% to 87% after just four months, and the campaign was recognized by Adweek magazine as opening "a new chapter in U.S. hotel advertising" and billing the Helmsley Palace Hotel as "The only Palace in the world where the Queen stands guard” A 1985 article in the Chicago Tribune credited the ad campaign with having "made Leona Helmsley more famous than the Helmsley hotel chain for which she speaks". Helmsley fired Joyce Beber four different times.


During college, I had a media internship at the agency. I was young and intimidated - but that experience led me to the life and career that I love in agency client services.


During this Women’s History Month, on International Women’s Day, I have much to honor and celebrate– including a family friend who made advertising history so many years ago. #whm #womenshistorymonth  #internationalwomensday