GEORGE WHO?: Out with George Zimmer, in with Joseph Abboud.
This story first appeared in the March 10, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In an abrupt change in strategy and tone, The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. has replaced Zimmer, its gravelly voiced founder, with Abboud, the Boston-accented designer.
On Monday, Abboud will take center stage in the retailer’s new advertising campaign — an initiative that will flood the airwaves more than 1,600 times during the next four weeks. Abboud is chief creative director of Men’s Wearhouse and the company last year purchased the label that bears his name. The major merchandising push for the collection is for spring.
Abboud is featured in a series of documentary-style spots that focus on quality and construction rather than price. He does the voice-overs and is shown walking through the company’s tailored clothing factory in New Bedford, Mass., while classical music streams in the background. He discusses fabric selection, construction and his “signature soft shoulder.” Longtime employees of the plant are also featured in the commercials. He’s also shown at his New York City office, sketching outfits and signing the labels of the finished product. Some scenes were also filmed in Central Park.
“It’s all very real and tells the story of Joseph Abboud suits,” the designer said. “No price was mentioned — we’re leading with quality, style and value.”
After Men’s Wearhouse bought the Abboud brand last year, speculation was rampant that the company, in a move to escape the highly promotional retail roller coaster, would position the designer front-and-center as the exclusive merchandise rolled out into stores. In June, Zimmer was ousted as executive chairman, silencing his reading of the tag line: “You’re going to like the way you look, I guarantee it.” The familiar phrase is nowhere to be found in the new commercials.
The campaign, which was created by the Phenomenon ad agency, will roll out in four phases. The first will include New York City; San Francisco and Monterey, Calif.; Boston and Springfield, Mass.; Hartford, and Providence, R.I., and will air on both regular and cable television. On average, the spots, which generally are 30 seconds with some 60-second ones, will be on the air some 300 times a week.