Discovery Communications and J.C. Penney are trying on their Say Yes to the Prom Dress Initiative in a bigger size this year.
The effort, which helps needy girls celebrate success in high school by providing attire for the big evening, this year spreads to events in five cities beginning March 16 in New York, up from three a year ago and one in 2013.
Penney, long a big advertiser on TLC, this year is the official sponsor of Say Yes to the Prom Dress and will provide hair care services and accessories at the events. Penney’s participation will be featured in video wraps that will air in primetime on March 27 within Bride by Design and Say Yes to the Dress.
Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta host Monte Durham will also be hosting the prom events and will be featured in the wraps. In addition, TLC is producing a video of highlights from the prom events that will appear on TLC.com and on Penney’s Web site. Penney will also be distributing the video via social media.
“There is a great feel-good nature to this,” says Josh Trager, VP ad sales for TLC. “J.C. Penney was over-the-top about this last year and came back. We hope it expands for 2016.”
Discovery will be holding Say Yes to the Prom Dress events in New York, Silver Spring, Md., Denver, Miami and Los Angeles. About 2,400 dresses have been donated.
An affiliate will be a partner in each city, with employees contributing dresses and participating in the event.
In New York City, the partner is Verizon FiOS; in Denver, it’s Charter Communications; in Miami, it’s AT&T Uverse; and in Silver Spring and Los Angeles, it’s DirecTV.
AT&T U-Verse Buzz Channel is also planning on producing a show around the event in Miami, where many of the girls involved are homeless.
In Denver, The Cable Center will host a prom for Abraham Lincoln High School, where 98% of the students are on free and reduced lunch programs.
First Lady Michelle Obama has recorded a video that will be played at each event in which she tells a story of her own prom dress.
New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, an advocate for the empowerment of young women, will attend the New York event.
Adria Alpert Romm, Discovery’s chief human resources & global diversity officer, recalls that the program began in 2012 as an event to connect with schools near the company’s headquarters in Silver Spring.
“The show Say Yes to the Dress at the time was fairly new and successful. What a great partnership with a brand-defining show,” she recalls. After the first event was a success, she says, the program expanded because, “we wanted to connect in other cities.”
Last year, there were three events, one in Silver Spring, one in Des Moines and one in Chicago at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios.
“It’s our employees giving back and this year we went further and connected with Teen Vogue,” she says. The magazine is owned by the Newhouse family, which owns a stake in Discovery and is acting as a media partner in the initiative.
“When those girls walk in and see the dresses, it’s tremendously rewarding,” Romm says. “Many of our employees have kept up with the girls they mentored. As a result the girls continue to have a professional woman as a mentor. And that’s been great from an employee relations perspective.”