He puts his pants on like the rest of us, one leg at a time, but George Zimmer probably knows better how to sell them than anybody in the country. Maybe the world.
This week the crew from a San Francisco ad agency, Red Ball Tiger, came to Houston to shoot a commercial for Men’s Wearhouse, the company Zimmer started here with one little bitty store (and a cigar box for a cash register) in 1973. He now has over 1,100 stores, plus the K & G Fashion Superstores and the Moore’s chain in Canada, and is recognized as the largest specialty retailer of men’s apparel in the United States.
Though H-Town remains the “mother ship” of his business, claiming both the corporate offices and their massive 47-acre distribution center, the executive offices are in the San Francisco Bay area. That’s usually where they shoot company commercials. Zimmer, however, got the idea to get back to his business roots and film a national spot in Houston this week — for the first time in 25 years.
Zimmer got the idea to get back to his business roots and film a national spot in Houston this week — for the first time in 25 years.
Of course it rained.
When I caught up with them, they had regrouped from their planned outdoor shots and were making do in the glamorous Hotel ZaZa and happily shooting away. Four very handsome young men were standing in the lights being fussed over by makeup artists.
Their wardrobe was especially hip and stylish, and that was the whole point, to show the world that Men’s Wearhouse is more than suits and tuxedos but also has the goods for the 20 to 35 male demographic.
Two of the models, Duane Daniels (with a James Franco grin) and Ross Davidson, were there by way of their agent Page Parkes, but the other two fellows had interesting stories about how they landed the job.
Roshon Smith, looking sharp in a leather jacket and hat, is actually a Men’s Wearhouse employee at their Houston corporate office. He explained that the company had asked young men who might be interested to submit their headshots for consideration. Smith was chosen “out of about 30.”
Emrah Yilgen, who is originally from Turkey and has a smoldery exotic look, found this gig on Craigs List! He’s looking for an agent to represent him for print work. (I can see his face in one of those men’s cologne ads.)
Zimmer himself was on hand to deliver his famous line in his famous growly voice, “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.” He was perfect in nearly every take. I guess after 26 years of practice he can say it in his sleep.
Richie Goldman, one of the early partners in the company, was in charge of the production and it went as smooth as glass. The scene I watched was inside one of the ZaZa’s grand, mahogany-paneled “meeting rooms” (which to me looks more like an elegant little ball room). Though the deer head over the marble fireplace wasn’t in the shot, it gave the room the feel as if a baron was somewhere about.
In this case, the baron was George Zimmer who joined the fab foursome models and effortlessly delivered everything director Greg Wilson requested. Wilson came from San Francisco as did the cameramen, producers and a few others, but the rest of the crew was local, including Mark Wells with whom I’ve worked on productions. More Houston Men’s Wearhouse employees rounded out the crew. It was an exceptionally nice bunch of people, especially considering, as Goldman pointed out, “time is money in this business” which tends to make people a tad temperamental.
Zimmer found it hard to believe it’d been so long since he’d shot a commercial in Houston but Goldman confirmed it. These two have been friends and co-workers since they got out of college.
It was clear that Zimmer, though now a long-time San Francisco area resident, still has plenty of Texas pride. He made sure I knew that, “Texas is the most prosperous state in the country right now!”
The next day was scheduled for those missed outdoor shots and thankfully the weather returned to our usual, blue sky gorgeousness.
Here’s hoping Zimmer will come back for more. One thing he can count on here is a city that welcomes productions and offers professionals who have a friendly, can-do attitude. We guarantee it.