Since peeking through the Looking Glass that was In GOOP Health I’ve been reflecting on the purpose of it all.
Paltrow says they don’t make much profit and that seems right to me. The take from the tickets would have been around $525,000 (500 of the $650 tickets and 100 of the $2000, my best guess by counting the number of people in the “exclusive” seats). Renting a large space in New York is not cheap and there was a massive security detail. Several speakers were New York based. The celebrities, the “other siders” (saved-dead-brain-with-love and talks-with-ghosts-for dollars and consciousness-is-a-verb people), Dr. Gottfried and the vaccines-caused-my-child-to develop-worse-reflux pediatrician who tests chakras for weight loss were not local. Whether GOOP paid or they flew in on their own dime for exposure and to sell books I don’t know.
We received an e-mail a few days before the event indicting they had some $2000 tickets available. It was interesting as they had previously advertised that they had quickly sold out of the ginger tickets! I don’t remember any fine print saying the ticket was refundable. Whether they truly sold out and someone found extra room (side eye), special people got refunds, or they weren’t truthful about selling out I don’t know.
Who Was There?
The breathless reviews in sources like People won’t tell you much about who was actually there, but I will. There seemed to be several cohorts of women, I have divided them as follows:
- Incredibly wealthy. These women were wearing expensive, but ugly designer clothes. Think $800 jeans, but they look like a style discarded in the 70s and for good reason. They probably party with celebrities at the Hampton’s. I didn’t speak with any of them, but it seemed that some of them knew the inner circle at GOOP. It seemed this was hanging with friends and being seen. I am sure they love Gwyneth.
- In the exercise/wellness business. Women who owned yoga or pilates studios. I can absolutely see the appeal for them. Many of their clients will be GOOP fans, so sharing what they “learned” at the expo would likely be of interest and good for business. I talked with a few. They seemed skeptical of the mediums (so half of the lectures), but thought the others were “good.” They loved Gwyneth and the spa treatments.
- Women my age, some with daughters and some without. The event seemed like a girls weekend. Also some side eye on the mediums and the “other side” mumbo jumbo, but they also loved Gwyneth and the spa treatments and the food.
- Women in their 20s. Also, not too interested in the health information, but loved the spa treatments and of course loved Gwyneth. Several told me they aspired to be an incredible business woman just like GP. I pointed out that she was born wealthy, amassed even more wealth acting, has famous friends and can get on any magazine cover or talk show for free press anytime she wants. Hers is not rags to riches story. They agreed, but didn’t care. “She’s so amazing.”
Did Anyone Learn Anything?
The first time a practical piece of health advice was mentioned was 12:12 and it was “sleep more.” The only real advice came in the session on diet and it was all impractical, random, or weird and sometimes all three. The main “eating better” advice was to get your chakras tested, eat more colors, get more sleep, have orgasms, and try intermittent fasting as defined as going 4-8 hours between meals. And no, I’m not shitting you as none of the women I spoke with could remember any practical dieting advice either besides buying one of the many books being promoted.
The lectures quickly dwindled to half full after the too long meditation session and the wacky medium. It seemed the lectures were a place to hang out while waiting for the spa treatments. The lectures were boring. As the day progressed there was fewer note taking and more Facebooking.
What was the Point?
This was about rewarding the faithful. A bit like Mary Kay giving a pink Cadillac, except you get to pay for your own Cadillac!
Everyone spoke about how much they admired GP and if she recommends a product that seems good enough. Buying a jade egg means you are living your best life just like GP, although as she clearly has never used one (based on her Jimmy Kimmel interview) not really. It’s all an illusion. GP is the traveling snake oil saleswoman who gets up and gives the pitch. She is attractive and “cool” so if you buy these products you will be like her. Not everyone can afford the $650 t-shirts on her site, but many people can afford the $35 bath products (the one I tried was gross, so beware).
The other point is the free publicity. The breathless yet superficial reviews in many magazines amounted to a lot of free publicity as well as her appearance on Stephen Colbert. All of Colbert’s previous mocking of GP and GOOP was just comedy. That was truly a disappointment. I guess the next time he eviscerates someone I will wonder if maybe he is friendly with the person in real life and this is just a show for ratings. Maybe he will ruffle Donald Trump’s hair too?
The sub par content fascinated me. It was in the same vein as the content on the GOOP site. Interesting headlines, but biased and ill researched content. An illusion of thought and science and curiosity to prop up product.
Crazy GOOP headlines likely translate into sales, but I wonder if bad headlines don’t and that is why they ultimately attacked me last year?
As GOOP is planning two more conferences this model is clearly successful in some way. It’s a chic quasi religious experience designed to prop up the cult of Gwyneth and the snake oil that she sells and it is clearly a winning business model. The fact that no one actually gets any healthier is clearly besides the point.