Sep 23

Image goes for a ride

I always wear jeans and sneaks when I fly. To me, comfort trumps appearance, especially in today's unfriendly skies.

September 23 - business_travel

It wasn't too long ago, though, that the very thought of dressing in jeans and sneaks on a business trip was verboten. My CEO at JWT always dressed in business formal wear, even when we were traveling on a Sunday. 'You never know who you might meet,' he admonished me, after spying my open neck polo.

On another occasion in the late 1980s, I sported jeans, cowboy boots and an unshaven face on a Sunday night flight to a client off-site. I figured I'd be flying alone, so why worry. Ah, but my client was also on the flight. We shook hands after landing, and then he offered me a piece of advice. 'There's casual and then there's casual. You represent your firm wherever you go. How do you think your CEO would feel if he saw you looking like this?' Duly noted.

That was many moons ago, of course. Today, there is no dress code for business travel. In fact, any code of airline comportment has been blown to smithereens. Nowadays, the typical fellow traveler is a morbidly-obese man dressed in a track suit, flip-flops and carrying two Double Whoppers with cheese on board. In fact, spying a passenger in suit-and-tie is akin to a sighting of Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman.

I knew the times had truly changed when I recently spied the always erudite, always neatly coiffed Bill Heyman in a pair of jeans at O'Hare. If the Bill Blass of PR search consultants is ok with jeans and sneaks at the airport, then it's ok with me as well. I just hope Mr. Heyman doesn't lapse into the track suit and Whopper mode any time soon. If he does, then we will have truly reached the end of days.

Jan 17

Image enhancement 201; Winter semester, 2008.

Professor Reputation: "Ok, ok, settle down, class and welcome to Image Enhancement 201. I’m ProfessorDetroit
Rudyard Reputation, or Prof. Rep for short.

For those of you who remained semi-conscious during the long Winter break, today’s assignment should be of interest. In fact, it may be the most challenging assignment of the entire semester, so pay attention: you’re the head of a large advertising or public relations agency. The City of Detroit’s travel & tourism bureau has just contacted you, asking for a comprehensive program to rehabilitate the Motor City’s horrific image. As you hopefully know, Detroit has become synonymous with the demise of the US economy and the media have been piling on lately with lots of doom and gloom articles.

So, you’re running the average large ad or PR agency and have lots of off-the-shelf solutions to offer. Which ones do you suggest? Yes, Ms. Rousseau."

Rousseau: "It’s actually Mr. Rousseau, Professor Rep. I underwent a transgender operation over the holidays."

Prof: "Way too much info, but please proceed Mr. Rousseau."

Rousseau: "I’d opt for the tried and true name change recommendation a la Philip Morris becoming Altria in order to distance itself from killing so many people with its cigarettes."

Prof: "Go on."

Rousseau: "So, I’m thinking we give the city a new, more positive name without losing the core identity. How about ‘Uptroit,? Or ‘Newtroit"? Or, how about being counterintuitive and renaming the city ‘Jobtroit’?

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