Zimmer and Deen – Are pitchmen still a good idea?
Sort of weird that both George Zimmer and George Zimmerman are in the news this week. One is defending himself, the other is a men’s clothing marketing icon and decidedly playing offense, and is the one we’ll discuss here. We’ll also discuss the slow-motion self-destruction of Paula Deen, food celebrity.
The upshot of these stories:
– Companies need to realize that consumers tend to instinctively side with the person, not the company
– Increasingly, sponsors are cutting ties with celebrities at the first hint of controversy – – because they think they have no choice
– Ultimately celebrities get our attention but it’s harder than ever to have a 30-year spokesperson
Link to Men’s Wearhouse History
George Zimmer, founder of midscale clothier The Men’s Wearhouse and famous after umpteen years saying “You’re gonna like the way you look – – I guarantee it”, was booted from the organization last week. The reasons have evolved into a sort of ‘he said, she said’ PR battle (one good summary is here). In the end, though, the reasons aren’t important. What’s important is that the company looks cold and heartless for mercilessly getting rid of the old guy who, yes, founded the place, but apparently can’t appeal to the more important younger shoppers. And that has translated into consumer antipathy towards MW, which has decidedly lost the PR war.
We remember Wendy Kaufman, the popular straight-talking ‘Snapple Lady’ who was dumped right after the company was bought for $1.7B by Quaker Oats. Quaker was 0-for-2 on that one – -it eventually unloaded Snapple for $300 million 3 years later to Triarc Brands, which immediately reinstated her as spokesperson, to the delight of consumers.
SEE THIS OLD FOOTAGE OF WENDY / SNAPPLE COMMERCIAL:
In January 2012, William Shatner (who has had more career changes than Madonna) was terminated as Priceline pitchman (‘The Negotiator’) after 14 years, apparently due to a change in their business strategy. Credit to Priceline for offing Kirk in a suitably campy explosion. On the other hand, a survey by Priceline.com discovered that 94% of customers wanted him back. So this past January he returned, in different, but still amusing executions. Good move, Priceline.
SEE LATEST WILLIAM SHATNER / PRICELINE COMMERCIAL:
On the other hand, when celebrities clearly behave badly, a company is justified in letting them go. O.J. Simpson, Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant (a seemingly endless list of pitchmen gone bad is here), which brings us to the case of Paula Deen.
Ms. Deen, longtime Food Network celebrity chef, is being fired by seemingly every sponsor she has (Food Network, Caesars, Smithfield Foods and now Wal-Mart). Her crime? Well, aside from glorifying heart-attack food, she admitted to using a racial slur several decades ago during a robbery. OK, 30 years ago, she certainly could have moved beyond that mindset, right? Well, she compounded the controversy by a continuing series of self-inflicted misfires in ensuing interviews. She deserves to be heard and to have a chance for redemption, but she also can afford better PR advice.
Her sponsors, seeing this story take on a life of its own, probably figured that inaction on their part could be interpreted by some as tacit approval of using racist words. So they needed to disconnect as a defensive play. Fair? Who knows; in this 24/7 news cycle the truth is less important than perception and reaction precedes facts. But Paula Deen won’t starve, and business is business. So it’s an understandable move by her sponsors.
On the other hand, the $1500+ Paula Deen cruise, where the food star mingles with guests and does cooking demos, has seen sufficient goodwill-fueled demand to require the cruise line to add another 500-person cruise to the schedule. And her upcoming cookbook has seen a 1300% surge on Amazon since the incident.
Famous people can still move product – – but increasingly these relationships require caution – – and lawyers – – on both sides.
bookmarked!!, I love your site!
I’ve been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It
is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as
you did, the web will be much more
useful than ever before.
Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!
I really like what you guys
tend to be up too. This type of clever work and exposure!
Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve included you guys to my own blogroll.
Everyone loves it when individuals get
together and share ideas. Great site, stick with
Thankfulness to my father who informed me almost this website, this web site is really awesome.
I am genuinely keen of reading posts about developing modish blog,or even regarding Web optimization.
Hi there mates, its wonderful chip of writing almost tutoringand completely explained,reserve it up always the period.
When someone writes an piece of writing he/she keeps the picture of a consumer surrounded his/her mind that how a buyer can understand it. So that why this paragraph is great. Thanks!
Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve have in mind your stuff prior to and you’re
simply extremely fantastic. I actually like what you have
bought here, certainly like what you are stating
and the way through which you say it. You are making it enjoyable and you still
take care of to stay it sensible. I cant wait to learn far more from you.
This is actually a wonderful website.
Spot on with this write-up, I seriously feel this web site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more,
thanks for the information!
Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Terrific blog and amazing style and design.