| July 14
July 14 When a commercial for Men's Wearhouse
hit the airwaves on July 8, there was one glaring
Its founder George Zimmer, the man whose deep, gravelly
voice has been connected with the company's ad campaign for more
than 25 years, did not appear.
The new ad features a bevy of men in boxer shorts and ties,
waving signs on the street promoting the company's National Suit
Drive, an annual charity event that donated suits to unemployed
men who are looking to get back in the workforce. Zimmer and his
signature phrase - "You're going to like the way you look. I
guarantee it," - are nowhere to be found.
Zimmer's absence coincided with the board of Men's Wearhouse
decision in June to abruptly oust Zimmer as executive chairman
in a dispute over the company's structure and strategy.
The image of Zimmer, 64, and the company he served had been
inseparable for many years. But as ad front man he didn't
connect with the twenty-and-thirty something shoppers they were
targeting, one person close to Men's Wearhouse said.
Representatives for Zimmer and Men's Wearhouse declined to
Earlier Men's Wearhouse and Zimmer said in separate
statements it had to do with disagreements over direction of the
company, including taking it private.
Over the past several years, Men's Wearhouse's commercials
tried to appeal to hip, young men though Zimmer played a role.
But without his face or recognizable voice, it could also
alienate loyal customers.
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel suggested Zimmer's exit was
tantamount to firing Santa Claus and joked in a spoof that Men's
Wearhouse hired actor Gary Busey as its new pitchman.
"Zimmer is embedded in the DNA of Men's Wearhouse," said
Robin Lewis, a retail consultant and CEO of industry publication
The Robin Report. "You take him away at risk of diminishing the
In some ways the saga highlights the pitfalls of a brand
tied too closely to one person. A brand should live past its
founder, spokesperson or even its logo, said Ted Royer, chief
creative officer of the ad agency Droga5.
"It wasn't the most exciting work, it was just the ubiquity
of the message and his face," Royer said.
THAT'S THE FACT, JACK
Men's Wearhouse, based in Fremont, California, operates more
than 1,100 stores under the Men's Wearhouse, Moores and K&G
brands that sell suits, tuxedos, and other clothing.
In 1973, Zimmer opened his first Men's Wearhouse in Houston.
The store's first commercial aired two years later but Zimmer
didn't become the image until 1986.
"I wanted to establish credibility for our everyday low
pricing," Zimmer said, according to Men's Wearhouse website. The
thinking was the founder would project authenticity.
The phrase he is famous for almost didn't come to pass.
Zimmer originally wanted to say "That's the fact, Jack,"
cribbing the line from Bill Murray's character in the movie
"Stripes." But Zimmer changed his mind at the last minute.
While Zimmer has always been in the spotlight, the company
started to dial back his role in the commercials.
Three years ago, the retailer launched a new ad campaign
that featured other actors in various skits. Zimmer doesn't
appear until the very end.
In the most recent commercial for the suit drive, Scott
Hess, senior vice president at the media agency Spark, said the
absence of Zimmer's voice is noticeable to those engaged with
Men's Wearhouse, however, could always fall back on Zimmer
if needed. It has a licensing agreement with Zimmer who will
receive $250,000 for each of the next four years, should they
use his image in its advertising.