The man in the Hathaway shirt

The man in the Hathaway shirt

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.

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