Thursday, June 20, 2013

Men's Wearhouse makes a mistake

Yesterday, Men's Wearhouse announced the firing of their founder, Executive Chairman and spokesman of 30 years, George Zimmer.

Sales were up 5.1% the last quarter. 

Sales were up 4.4% for the calendar year 2012.

Profits were up over 10% to $2.55 per share.

Those are numbers JC Penney, Sears or Kmart would kill for.

So why did he get fired?

Richard Jaffe, an financial analyst thinks it might be the advertising.

“They continually rework it, adjusting how much presence do we have on George. Does he stand? Does he sit? But it’s always all about George Zimmer — his voice, his physical presence. An old guy with a gray beard may not provide credibility to the product in the eyes of a 22- or 24-year-old.”

If he's right, then the board at Men's Wearhouse is wrong.

Yes, George Zimmer is older than his target, but that doesn't mean he can't connect with them. In fact, based on the performance of the company it looks like he has.

There have been a lot of spokespeople who managed to connect with an audience that didn't look like them. Dos Equis' most interesting man in the world comes immediately to mind. Dave Thomas sold a lot of burgers to 20-somethings. Frank Purdue was the tough man who sold tender chickens to millions of moms.

If being old means you can't sell to younger audiences, The Rolling Stones would be in wheel chairs instead of on tour.

It's not about age, it's about attitude and relevance.

At a time when more and more men are dressing like boys, George Zimmer was that voice that told guys, when you're ready to be taken seriously we're here to help.

It worked.

It worked because he is authentic. It worked because he is honest. It worked because he projects the right combination of authority, empathy and confidence.

Thanks to the board's decision, we're in for a long run of one-off ads while the Men's Wearhouse searches to find a voice as effective as that of Mr. Zimmer.

I guarantee it.

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