An advertising agency without blue jeans is like…well, nobody really knows.

April 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm 5 comments

Endearing stick-in-the-mud George Will has taken a day off from grumbling about the scourges of liberalism and big government to address an issue that concerns us all–especially those of us in the advertising industry. Denim. He writes in the Washington Post:

“Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy’s catechism of leveling — thou shalt not dress better than society’s most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism — of believing that appearance matters. That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste.”

Maybe. I suspect the 67-year-old Will has not given adequate thought to the taxonomy of brand names and cuts and all that they mean in the minds of the young and hip. I think jeans are more of a tired, overused expression of rebellion against “the man.” But if “the man” wears them every day–and make no mistake, he does (usually with a sport coat to show that he is “the man”)–the meaning has been drained from them. People who wear jeans aren’t creative, eccentric or iconoclastic. They don’t echo Marlon Brando or Lee Marvin or James Dean. They’re ordinary, and what’s more, they don’t have the Abercrombie-&-Fitch bodies necessary to make jeans look good. Here’s a news flash: Good adult clothing is usually designed to, shall we say, camouflage some of the more gelatinous qualities of the aging American physique. 

Perhaps more importantly, jeans are almost certainly the most uncomfortable pair of pants in your closet. They’re heavy and rough. They’re hot in the summer. They don’t keep you warm in winter. They have almost nothing to recommend them other than the mistaken belief that “they go with everything.” Moreover, I am certain Bill Bernbach never wrote an ad while wearing them, and if he had tried, it would have had a coupon in it.

I’m not suggesting that advertising agencies go back to jackets and ties (though I would say to anyone who claims that dressing well is uncomfortable that he has purchased clothes that do not fit properly), but just once in a while, could we try pulling on our big-boy trousers? Advertising agencies full of people in jeans don’t look like hothouses of creativity. They look like banks who are having dress-like-a-prison-trustee day.

You want people to think you’re a wild man, a creative force of nature, the next Lee Clow? Pull on your gabardine pants one leg at a time.

(Note: This post was written while wearing gray cotton trousers with multiple random zippers on them by Calvin Klein.)

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dan  |  April 18, 2009 at 1:17 am

    I took my jeans off and read this. It felt nice but a little chilly.

  • 2. Skip  |  April 18, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Maybe if there were a multitude of designers putting time, effort, and resources against garbardine leggings, we wouldn’t have this problem.

    But we don’t, so we do.

    I read that article in the Tribune this morning at breakfast, and I was really left thinking Mr. Will should (gr)own a pair.

  • 3. scottj1898  |  April 18, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Now, now, Skip. It’s not as if we’re threatening to take away your Crocs.

  • 4. Ross McLean  |  April 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    How could you write this? I wear jeans all the time.

  • 5. scottj1898  |  April 21, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Exactly. And they clash with the scarlet tunics that should be worn at all times by all members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Account Planners.

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