He’ll Just Buy $2000 Worth of Ugly Suits!

Something about the big 3 automakers going to Congress today with their collective hats in hand reminded me of an old story.

Once upon a time (in the early ’80s) I was a Vice President and Public Relations Manager for Griswold-Eshleman, a very prominent ad agency headquartered in Cleveland (with offices around the world). In an effort to appease one of its accounts, the president of the ad agency insisted I hire just the right kind of account executive to make a client happy.

Now I am neither a pretentious nor judgmental guy, but one of the candidates they put in front of me was a young man who was so inappropriately dressed for a job interview that even I was taken aback. I mean he was wearing the wrong shoes, the wrong socks, the wrong shirt and tie and the wrong suit. And it had nothing to do with his station in life. He was simply clueless and not the least bit bothered by it.

Given that there was nothing in particular about this candidate that would cause one to look beyond his attire, I passed on him. Unfortunately, the agency CFO (a Yale grad no less) insisted that this candidate’s trade magazine writing background made him the perfect man for the job. We argued relentlessly for what seemed like seconds before he offered a grand solution:

“We’ll give him a $2,000 hiring bonus and tell him to buy a new wardrobe,” said Ed with glee in his eyes (I am not kidding, he was full of glee).

“No,” I retorted, “he’ll just go out and buy $2,000 worth of ugly clothes.”

What Ed could not see was that this young man was content with his look and was not going to change it, though with $2,000 he could surely expand on it.

Anyway, back to the automakers. GM wants our government to give them $4 billion initially and up to $12 billion later, Ford wants an investment of about $14 billion and Chrysler is asking for $7 billion.

That’s a lot of billions of dollars that I am fairly certain will buy a lot of ugly suits and may or may not change anything.

What does it all mean?

In the case of Griswold-Eshleman, I did not hire the candidate the organization insisted I hire (it wasn’t personal, it was business). I have no idea what happened to him, but I know what happened to the company that wanted to invest money in him: They went out of business.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.