Browsed by
Month: February 2015

The men behind the man in the Hathaway shirt

The men behind the man in the Hathaway shirt

Sometimes behind one story lies another one and the stories around the Man in the Hathaway Shirt are a perfect examples of this, so two stories this week 

The man behind the man in the Hathaway Shirt: David Ogilvy

It is 1951.

In the little town of Waterville, Maine, a small company that had been producing quality shirts for 116 years, decided things needed to change.

The company, C.F. Hathaway, approached the still relatively young, Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency and asked them to develop a print campaign that would help boost their sales.

It was to be the beginning of a long and fruitful association and the birth of one of the most famous advertising campaigns in the world.

David Ogilvy, the creative director, agreed to take the brief. He spent days doing in-depth research on Hathaway, its shirts and its customers. He came up with 18 concepts before settling on the one he liked best.

It was a campaign built around the image of a distinguished man in a series of interesting, glamorous locations and always dressed in a Hathaway shirt.

Described like this it doesn’t sound that different or original.


There was more to the campaign however, as Kenneth Roman pointed out in his book, The King of Madison Avenue, it was the first time “that shirt advertising focused as much on the man wearing the shirt as on the shirt itself.”

The man in the Hathaway shirt, who would be pictured in that series of romantic locations, was created to give the ads a fictional element. The ads would have “story appeal” as Ogilvy would later say.

There was one more twist in the final executions, the man would be wearing an eye patch.

Ogilvy, a flamboyant dresser himself, got the idea to try an eye patch from a photo he had seen of Ambassador Lewis Douglas, who had injured his eye while fishing in England. Ogilvy felt the patch might be both distinctive and help dramatize the concept of an aristocratic man with a colourful life. Readers would wonder how the man had lost his eye and this would add intrigue to the story feel of the campaign.

So on the way to the shoot, Ogilvy went in a five and dime store and bought a few cheap eye patches. When he arrived at the studio, he was still not certain whether they would work or not. He handed them over to the photographer, saying: “Just shoot a couple of these to humour me. Then, I’ll go away and you can do the serious job.”

However when the photos came and Ogilvy saw the ones with the model wearing the eye patch, he was immediately sure that they had something special.

The first insertion of “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” campaign appeared in The New Yorker and cost $3,176.

It was an instant success.

As well as appearing in other papers it was mentioned editorially in Time, Life, and Fortune. A cartoon in The New Yorker showed three men looking into the display window of a shirt store. In the next panel, they are pictured coming out of the store, all wearing eye patches.

How much the sales of eye patches went up isn’t known, but Hathaway’s shirt sales doubled in less than five years.

And as Ogilvy was to say later of the campaign and the eye patch “it made Hathaway instantly famous. Perhaps, more to the point, it made me instantly famous.”


The man behind the man, behind the Man in the Hathaway Shirt: Ellerton Jette

It was 1951.

Ellerton Jette, the president of a little known shirt maker from Waterville, Maine decided that things needed to change

He wanted to grow his little business and turn it into a national brand, but he knew he didn’t have much money and needed to make every dollar count.

He had heard about the advertising prowess of creative director, David Ogilvy, at the still relatively young agency Ogilvy and Mather.

Jette felt that if he could only get Ogilvy to take the account, he and his company, C.F. Hathaway, might be able to get the growth they so desired.

So after thinking long and hard about how he would pitch the idea to a man used to pitching his own ideas, Jette booked a meeting with David Ogilvy.

“I have an advertising budget of only $30,000,” he told Ogilvy. “And I know that’s much less than you normally work with. But I believe you can make me into a big client of yours if you take on the job.”

Not a bad start but probably not enough to convince Ogilvy.

Jette went on and made two promises. “If you do take on the job, Mr. Ogilvy, I promise you this. No matter how big my company gets, I will never fire you. And I will never change a word of your copy.”

Jette had realised that he probably only had one chance to persuade Ogilvy and so had decided to try and give the advertising man what he most wanted. Advertising is a fickle business and the promise of a lifelong client would have been a powerful incentive to Ogilvy and a client who gave him carte blanche in creative development was unheard of, a dream come true for a creative director.

Jette had done what great marketing men do. He had put himself in his target audience’s shoes, in this case he put himself in Ogilvy’s very smart, probably handmade, loafers and understood what he might want. He then offered it to him.

Ogilvy was flattered and delighted with the promises. He accepted the job.

Ogilvy’s subsequent ads helped transform the fortunes of the company but they would never have happened how it not been for the marketing genius and insight of Ellerton Jette.



A Valentine’s Romance

A Valentine’s Romance

They first met on a film set, where they appeared together in a TV commercial.  

The attraction was instant. They became one of the world’s most famous couples.

Then, on Valentine’s Day 2004, she announced they were no longer a couple.

She was seen out and about, on the town. He faded from view.

They met again on another film set in 2010. The film was a smash and his star was on the rise again.

Determined to win her back, he started an all-out campaign.

Then on Valentine’s Day 2011, the news broke, they were officially an item again.

Just another celebrity love match?

Not quite, this is the true ‘toy’ story of how Ken met Barbie, how Ken lost Barbie and how he won her back again.


“And then it happened – she met Ken, and somehow she just knew they’d be going together” so went the voice-over in the TV commercial showing that fateful first meeting in 1961.

It was a long and lasting romance. Though never officially married they were to be together for an amazing 43 years. Countless outfits and various makeovers came and went, but on Valentine’s Day in 2004, they parted. Russell Arons, Mattel’s then Vice President of Marketing, announced, “like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end,” but he added the two “will remain friends”.

The newly single Barbie soon had a new companion, Blaine, an Australian surfer.

While his star was on the wane, Ken never really gave up on Barbie. In 2006, with a makeover courtesy of Hollywood stylist Phillip Bloch, he reappeared on the scene but to little effect. He soon disappeared from view again. Then in 2009, to help Barbie celebrate her 50th anniversary, he made a surprise appearance on the runway at her first New York Fashion Week show.

The party was a great success for Barbie but did little for Ken’s plan to woo her back. The little it did do however was to prove crucial. His appearance caught the eye of the people at Pixar and the following year Pixar brought them back together in front of the cameras for Toy Story3.

The reunion ‘convinced’ Ken it was worth one last try at rekindling the romance and in a world that had changed so dramatically since they first met all those years ago, he launched a multimedia campaign.

‘He’ bought posters around New York and Los Angeles on which he professed (Ken-fessed) his love: “Barbie, you are the only doll for me,” “Barbie, we may be plastic but our love is real.”

He launched a Facebook page and got a Twitter account “making him real for consumers rather than just an accessory,” according to Lauren Bruksch, Mattel’s Marketing Director for Barbie and Girls.

Mattel partnered with and together they created a video showing Ken searching for new love interests, only to find that his perfect match was still Barbie.

Millions of people watched their on-line flirting. A “Love-O-Meter” was created on where people were asked to say whether Barbie should take him back or not. Over 500,000 fans voted and they overwhelmingly supported a make-up.

Finally, Barbie succumbed and on Valentine’s Day 2011 it was announced that they were officially back together.

Thoroughly modern and new media savvy Barbie told “I’m in awe of the lengths Ken went to profess his love, he knows how to sweep a doll off her feet!”



From toothpaste to global electronics – Lucky by name but brave and bold in deed. The story of LG

From toothpaste to global electronics – Lucky by name but brave and bold in deed. The story of LG

Following the success of the Korean edition of my book I have just been interviewed by Hyung Jun Yoon, a reporter from The Chosunilbo (The Chosen Daily) which is the largest newspaper in South Korea. Rather flattered, I realised to my embarrassment that I hadn’t written any stories about Korean brands so I thought it was time to change that …

From toothpaste to global electronics – Lucky by name but brave and bold in deed. The story of LG

“Nowadays, I find myself spending my evenings listening to the radio” mused Yoon Wook-Hyun.

It was spring, 1957 and Yoon Wook-Hyun, planning director of Lak-Hui Chemical Industrial Corporation, was attending a meeting of other managers, executives and company’s founder and president, Koo In-Hwoi. He made, what he thought, was just an innocent comment.

Lak-Hui Chemical Industrial Corporation had been founded in 1947. Pronounced Lucky it produced hygiene products such as soaps and laundry detergents and was most famous for its Lucky and Perioe toothpaste brands. In 1952, it had become the first Korean company to enter the plastics industry, but even this development didn’t stop Koo In-Hwoi’s response to Wook Hyun’s comment being a huge surprise to everyone in the room.

“We could make radios.” Koo In-Hwoi announced.

The late 1950s in was a period of dramatic technological change, with radios being seen as an embodiment of modern civilization, bringing news of the world to Korean listeners. However Korea was in still struggling to rebuild itself post the Korean War and the notion of a Korean company making radios seemed a long way off.

Politely Yoon Wook- Hyun voiced what most of the executives were thinking “I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but our technology is too far behind.”

Koo In-Hwoi wasn’t to be dissuaded, he was sure that it was something they could and indeed should be doing.

“We could certainly deal with it. If we need to learn, we’ll go abroad and learn; if we can’t, we’ll invite foreign technical experts here. I say let’s unveil the electronic industry within Korea.”


Later that year, on October 1, Luk-Hai founded a new company, Goldstar, and work started in the new design laboratory on what was to become the A501 radio.

While importing radio components would have been more practical than risking in-house development, it was decided that GoldStar would develop its own components domestically. It was a bold decision, one that took a long-term view of the industry’s potential rather than looking to solve the immediate short-term challenge. It was a decision that helped lay the foundation for the company to become a major player in technology.

Goldstar was soon producing its own switches, transformers and sockets and on November 15, 1959, the first A-501 came off the assembly line.

Keen to build on this success and not scared of making brave choices, GoldStar started to develop its second radio. It decided to use the emerging new transistor technology and created the T-701. Unfortunately the new technology meant the price of the new radios was much higher and sales were terrible. Goldstar was teetering on the edge of disaster.

At which point the company had a stroke of luck, the “16th May” military government announced a plan to supply radios to rural and farming areas and gave a contract to Goldstar. Sales which were had been just a few thousand in in 1960, rose to over one million in 1961. In 1962, Goldstar started exporting some of its radios, gaining extra income and valuable foreign currency.

Goldstar now on a stable footing went on to produce Korea’s first domestic TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners.

It was later merged with Lucky to form Lucky-Goldstar and in 1995, in a move designed to help it compete even more effectively in Western markets, it was renamed “LG”.

Inspiring Awesomeness – the story of Jake, Jacob and the community that is Threadless

Inspiring Awesomeness – the story of Jake, Jacob and the community that is Threadless

“Threadless was never intended to be a business. When Jacob De Hart and I started out, it was just a hobby, a fun thing to do for the other designers we were friends with.” So says co-founder Jake Nickell in his book on the birth and development of their brand.

The Threadless story begins in 2000 when Jake entered and won a competition on The competition was to design a t-shirt for a New Media Underground Festival that was being held in London in November that year.

Jake’s winning design was never printed and he didn’t even receive any prize money. However the ‘prize’ he did receive was an idea – he thought “It would be fun to have an on-going competition where people could always submit t-shirt designs, and we would print the best ones”

Jake contacted his friend Jacob, who loved the idea and Threadless was “started about one hour after coming up with the idea” as the two friends posted their first call for entries on the

They got nearly a 100 entries and decided to pick 5 winners.

Committing $500 each to cover the cost of printing 24 of each of the 5 designs and the fees of a lawyer to help them incorporate the business, they then built a website through which they would sell the shirts.   

Keeping things close to home the printing was done by Jacob’s aunt who luckily happened to be a screen printer.

They priced the shirts at $12 and sold out quickly and the boys had their first success and even made some money – 24 x $12 = $1440-$1000 costs = $440 profit!


However any money they made was ploughed back into the business, setting a precedent for their early years. “For the first two years of Threadless, every penny we made from selling tees went into printing more tee designs. We didn’t even take a salary or cut of the sales” says Jake.

Instead, and in keeping with their philosophy, they spent their own time building up a community. The choice of winning tees was changed to customer voting and Jake started posting news of the Threadless contests on any and every design web-site he could find. New batches of t-shirts were at first printed every couple of months, but soon became more and more frequent.

The “hobby”, as Jake and Jacob still held down other web developer jobs for a living, was growing fast and by 2002 the community was 10,000 strong and sales were $100,000.    

In 2004 when sales reached $1.5million and new designs were being printed every week, the pair decided to quit their other jobs and concentrate on the brand.

Business boomed growing to $6.5 million but the commitment to the community ethos continued. “Threadless is a community of people first, a t-shirt store second … The best thing we did is to trust our community. To constantly ask them for advice, to show them we are listening, and to change things based on what the community is feeling. We also wholly invest ourselves in being members ourselves” says Jake in the book.

Even when the pair recruited professional help and Jake gave up the CEO role, he continued as CCO – Chief Community Officer.

Interviewed by Jay Baer, Jake explained the significance of this on-going commitment and how they strive to maintain it.

“I think that the values that we have that have created the culture here are very important to the success.  So now that we’re growing to the size that when new people are brought in, the culture can be very new, it’s just really important to make it clear what Threadless is all about. We have a mission statement to “Inspire Awesomeness” and we have a bunch of internal things that we do to help make sure everyone’s on the same page about it all.  We do monthly awesome parties, host DIY days where anyone in the company can basically work on anything, anyone in the company can give anyone else in the company a bonus, etc… There are a ton of things we do!”

So it still sounds like Jake and Jacob’s original intention of it being “a fun thing to do”

And the moral of this story is the best brands don’t focus on the bottom line above all else. What does your brand really focus on?