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Brownie Mae Humphrey
May 25, 1913
Buford, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||September 24, 1992 (aged 79)|
Kissimmee, Florida, U.S.
|Known for||Tupperware sales|
|Spouse(s)||Robert Wise (1936–1941)|
|Children||Jerry H. Wise|
Brownie Mae Humphrey (May 25, 1913 – September 24, 1992) professionally Brownie Wise, was a pioneering American saleswoman largely responsible for the success of the home products company Tupperware, through her development of the "party plan" system of marketing.
A former sales representative for Stanley Home Products, Wise was a divorcee with a son to support. She found Tupperware to be a product with broad appeal and began selling it at home parties. In 1950 she moved to Florida and created a social networking marketing system through dealers and sellers that quickly outsold Tupperware's store sales.
This caught the attention of Earl Tupper, Tupperware's inventor, who invited her to be vice president of Tupperware Home Parties in 1951. She insisted that he market his products exclusively through party plans, where women invited friends and neighbors to a combination social event and sales presentation. Wise ran the sales division, Tupperware Home Parties, Inc, from Kissimmee, Florida and had the freedom to implement her marketing strategies. Her methods were extremely successful. Her ability to tap into popular culture and the desire for happiness helped recruit thousands of women into a career at a time when a woman's role was conventionally tied to the home. Her TV appearances, magazine and newspaper articles made her a household name. In 1954 she became the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week.
Wise invented much of the corporate culture of Tupperware and, by extension, other party-plan marketing organizations. She was especially keen on incentives, one of the chief ones being trips to Florida to the annual "Jubilee" at the company's sales headquarters for motivational meetings and socializing with other successful representatives. Top sellers would be presented with exotic gifts such as speedboats, trips and appliances carefully planned in the company of their husbands. She created idioms and rituals such as pilgrimage to a specially designed well in the Tupperware grounds for sellers to cast their wishes, "Brownie Wings" and costumed graduation ceremonies. Dealers would go on treasure hunts where prizes would be buried in the ground. Extravagant shows, parties and motivational talks made up the four-day convention.
Wise was presented to the company's representatives as something of an idealized 1950s woman. She was skilled in leveraging the social networking model and motivating thousands of women to come together in their homes to sell Tupperware. The liberation of many women through earning their own salary in the context of male-driven post-World War II, pre-feminist culture of the 1950s created many challenges. Her own relationship with Earl Tupper was volatile, and their differences became irreconcilable after Wise's success turned her into a celebrity. In January 1958 Tupper forced Wise out. Soon afterward, every reference to her was removed from company literature. She owned no stock and left with a severance package of one year's salary, about $30,000.
Wise attempted to form her own party-plan cosmetics company, Cinderella, but was unsuccessful; after this she largely faded from view and died in relative obscurity in 1992. Soon after Tupper parted ways with Wise, he sold the Tupperware organization to Dart Industries for US$16 million.
In popular culture
- Best wishes, Brownie Wise (1957) OCLC 1209513
- Tupperware! on PBS American Experience
- PBS American Experience: Biography of Brownie Wise
- Tupperware: An Open Container During a Decade of Containment, Alyssa Velazquez, Women's History Magazine, March 2014, Issue 74, p19-26
- "Timeline: Women, Work, and Plastics History". Tupperware!. PBS American Experience. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
- Maurer, Elizabeth (2017), Social Marketing Before the Internet, National Women's History Museum
- "Brownie Wise biography". Setting the Precedent. National Museum of American History. Archived from the original on June 30, 2011. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
- Mimi Minnick. "Advertising, Marketing, and Commercial Imagery Collections". Amhistory.si.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- Italie, Leanne (August 28, 2011). "Still fresh: Tupperware enjoys renaissance after 65 years on market". Eagle Tribune. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
- Whitmore, Laurie (September 25, 1992). "Brownie Wise Dies At Home: Kissimmee Woman Put Party Into Tupperware". Orlando Sentinel.
- Barbara McMahon. "Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lawrence to star in biopics of groundbreaking businesswomen | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- "Sandra Bullock to play Tupperware guru in Tate Taylor movie for Sony". Los Angeles Times. 2014-07-18. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- "Best wishes, Brownie Wise; how to put your wishes to work, (Book, 1957)". WorldCat.org. 2016-05-11. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- The American Storyteller Radio Journal - Hear an online story about Brownie Wise
- Tupperware! - Brownie Wise PBS' American Experience
- Don Wildman and The Mysteries at the Museum - Blast from the Past Season 0, Episode 39. How Brownie Wise made Tupperware the life of the party.
- Smithsonian Magazine, "The Story of Brownie Wise, the Ingenious Marketer Behind the Tupperware Party"
- Brownie Wise at Find a Grave