The Death of a Salesman

“You’re gonna like the way you look.  I guarantee it.”

Everyone knows that line. It’s George Zimmer, founder of Men’s Warehouse, a North American men’s suiting retailer.  George has been saying that line in every Men’s Warehouse commercial since the beginning, and it has become a bit of a  catch phrase. George opened his store in 1973, but was terminated in 2013 from his position as CEO.  His own board of directors decided to fire him!  To the public, based on statements released by both parties, it would appear that there were unknown internal conflicts or creative differences that led to this outcome.  What is interesting is how the parties on both sides of the conflict handled things, from a public relations perspective.  We will never know which side was ‘right’, but I think that George  won over the public’s perception at least.

The board of Directors fired Zimmer using a press release, without telling him first.  The statements they released thereafter, were emotionally charged and seemed passive aggressive.  Employees were not told that Zimmer would be fired, and were confused when they heard the news because they felt left out.  Customers and the public also seemed confused, and mostly sided with Zimmer.

After hearing the news of being fired, George released a letter citing his voluntary resignation from his position.  The letter was gracious and appeared as if he was choosing to take the high road.  I think this was an excellent public relations decision on his part because of the way the public responded favorably to it.

In his letter, George stated that “The Board’s decision however, cannot dampen my enthusiasm for all that has been accomplished since 1973….I still care deeply about the company and its future.”

In contrast,  Zimmer’s board released reactionary statements such as: “Mr Zimmer would not accept anything other than full control over the company…”

At the present day, George Zimmer is the Chairman and Founder of zTailors, a custom tailoring service for men and women. I think that Men’s Warehouse as a brand is different now, because George Zimmer was such a huge part the brand identity and image. That might have been why the public sympathized with him more than the board of directors who fired him.  People were used to hearing George’s calming and reassuring voice, telling them that they will definitely like the way that they look.  He was telling people that anyone could look their best, which is an attainable and comforting message.

Men’s Warehouse is also alive and well, and has re-branded itself to appeal to a younger and more fashion conscious audience.  Here are some instructions on how to tie a tie, courtesy of Men’s Warehouse:

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