There’s no such thing as happenstance when it comes to the branding of Joy Mangano. As everyone who does not shop on TV now knows, thanks to the major motion picture inspired by her life and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Mangano famously turned the drudgery of housework into the Miracle Mop, which became the darling of QVC, and then HSN. She's built a $3 billion empire on simple household solutions, common sense, and a lot of perseverance. And now, Mangano, an executive producer on the movie Joy, is deftly capitalizing on the Hollywood spotlight with an even more miraculous mop and a Target partnership that she calls her largest retail deal to date.
On the same day Lawrence received an Academy Award nomination for Joy—just a few days after taking home a Golden Globe for the part—the real Joy was at Target headquarters in Minneapolis to celebrate this week’s launch of her greatest hits, including the new and improved Miracle Mop, Memory Cloud Pillows and My Little Steamer, at all Target stores and Target.com. Target has carried Mangano’s best selling Huggable Hangers for eight years.
On Thursday afternoon, Mangano joined Target CEO Brian Cornell for a question and answer session that was open to employees. (Popcorn and Archer Farms brand bottled water provided). The talk was part of Target’s new “Outer Spaces” series designed to “bring some of the world’s best thinkers to our team,” said Dustee Jenkins, Target’s senior vice president of communications. Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel have been featured at past Outer Spaces seminars. Employees poured into Target Plaza Commons, the company’s swanky two-level community space (complete with ice rink, fire pit and workout studio) across Nicollet Mall from headquarters. The crowd—including at least one fervent Mangano fan who came clutching a pink velvety Huggable Hanger— had to be capped at around 500.
“You said this was going to be a little fireside chat,” Mangano commented to Cornell upon taking the stage.
Cornell smiled and shrugged. “Everything’s a little bigger at Target.”
This was the first time Target invited the media to Outer Spaces. But then, this was the first time the featured guest was the subject of a Hollywood movie currently in theaters and had a massive product launch at Target stores the very same week. Every store now boasts an end cap with purple “Joy” signage, and her presence continues on down the aisle with the mops, hangers, Forever Fragrant products and Better Beauty Cases. Mangano, accustomed to being able to describe every feature of her products and talk about them, at length, directly to consumers, worked with Target on the purple packaging and key messaging. A sign next to the mops reads, “Meet the mop that makes housework less work.” It includes a picture of Joy. The tagline on the end cap: “Simplify everyday challenges with Joy’s innovative solutions.”
On stage with Cornell, Mangano, not surprisingly, gushed about Target, saying she’s been shopping Target “forever.”
“If I went into the store right now, I could sell every one of those products. I’d describe the features, show how they work. With the customers right there, it’s so easy!”
Cornell looked bemused, even a bit nervous that Mangano might actually do it. “I wish it was that easy,” he said to the inventor, whom he repeatedly described as a friend, mentioning their five or six phone conversations in the past year.
It was a decade ago that a Hollywood producer first suggested to Mangano that her life could be a movie. Things didn't get serious until 2012 when two producers purchased the rights to Mangano’s story. Still, it wasn’t until she heard that writer/director David O. Russell and Lawrence—who previously teamed up on (Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle—were on board that Mangano says she started to process the potential. In products.
“I look at life through product,” Mangano told the Target audience. “I’m a firm believer in the circle of commerce. Hollywood is such a powerful entity. No one spends money on marketing like Hollywood.”
And so Mangano, who said she had been wanting to rebrand her collection, timed it perfectly. She said she actually had the updated Miracle Mop—now with “self-wringing helix technology and braided miracle microfiber head!”—ready to go months ago, but waited.
“When is a mop the star of a movie?” Mangano declared. “It’s never been done—a significant, meaningful story about our industry, that romanticizes the whole industry.”
Cornell kept the conversation broad and inspirational, calling Mangano a role model for Target’s female employees. He didn’t drill down on product development or shopping experience or customer psychology—even though Mangano’s keen instincts in these areas have contributed to her overwhelming success.
But then, she did meet privately with Target’s product development team.
“She is so good, so smart when it comes to creating products,” Cornell said after the group event.
Backstage, I asked Mangano if, despite the fame, it is perhaps harder today for her to sell mops convincingly, now that we all know she will never again have to mop another floor.
“I’m going to take you to my house,” she proclaimed (more of a Long Island mansion, from what I’ve read) “and have you talk to the person—you’ve got to have somebody there when you’re not home—and she will tell you that I clean more than she does!”
I believe that.
The success, the spotlight—it seems only to crystalize Mangano’s mission to make everyday life a little easier for the masses. “I now have the ability to do more and impact more people,” she says. “I’m working harder now than I ever did.”
Ever the promoter, Mangano told me she’s working on something that “is going to change” the luggage industry. “And we’re going to change the cleaning industry—again.”
“There,” she leaned in. “There’s your scoop.”