Friday, June 21, 2013
What does a company do when its board fires its founder and public face? This is the challenge of Men's Wearhouse, which let go George Zimmer who started the chain in 1973. Every Men's Wearhouse ad featured Zimmer intoning, "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it." To make matters more difficult, the board gave no reason for the dismissal. The chain is doing well and turning in good numbers. There are no public scandals. There are no rumors of moral turpitude. Apparently the board decided it is time for a change. Put yourself in the role of marketer and PR practitioner for the chain. What do you do now? Suddenly you're spokesman has been pitched down an Orwellian memory hole. Do you act as if he was never there in the first place? Do you acknowledge his contribution but go on? Do you whisper the reason for the firing to justify the board's action? There is the possibility that neither the marketer nor the PR practitioner know the real reason why Zimmer was pushed out. Somehow, they have to regroup, find a new communications strategy and move forward. The business can't depend on one individual if it wishes to thrive. Bad things happen. Move on.