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The voice of the brand strategy consultancy, The Portnoy Group Inc.

The Brand Man Speaks is a dialogue about the consuming world in which we live and a guide to successfully navigating it. The goal is to educate people and companies about branding, the most powerful yet misunderstood business tool.

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Men's Warehouse brand icon George Zimmer fired

It what remains to be understood, the board of men's apparel retailer Men's Warehouse fired its ad pitch/company founder this week. George Zimmer whose bearded face and TV ad assertion that you "will like the way you look. I guarantee it", was terminated from the moderately priced men's clothing chain.

News reports are sketchy but it appears some kind of disagreement on the future path of the company seems to be behind the sudden termination. That might have included dropping Zimmer as the spokesperson to reach a younger audience who might conceivably find him "too old" to admire.

The problem with a case like this is the man in question isn't just an executive; he is the brand's iconic voice and image and an intergral part of the brand's marketing message. Short of an ethics issue, it doesn't seem to make sense to so abruptly terminate a key element of your brand message unless you have a superior back-up in the wings. It seems like a knee-jerk move that could be damaging to the brand at least in the short term. The stock price took a big tumble when this news was released.

This is a good example of the risk companies take when they use either a celebrity or a top executive to promote the brand and a problem occurs. The spokeperson is an extension of the brand (especially if used for an extended period as in this case) and the removal leaves the brand vulnerable and temporarily rudderless.

It is important for the brand to right itself quickly and not allow the negative PR accompanying this news to linger too long. Consumers know this man and have a relationship with him over years (he identified himself as the Chairman to stand behind his guarantee in every ad) and his departure could undermine the relationship consumers have with this retailer for some time to come.

Watching out for you everyday.




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