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When Presenting, There is a Place For Jeans: Home.
By: Tom Roarty
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The season finales for "Mad Man" and "The Pitch" have finally come and gone on AMC this past Sunday, and while fans are eagerly awaiting the return of "The Walking Dead," the advertising world has time to reflect on the two contrasting visions of agency life being depicted by these two shows.
What the back-to-back programming does from a subliminal standpoint is show how the world of advertising has deteriorated from a classy industry of high finance and fashion to what it is today. What’s that you say, fashion? Yes, it sounds kind of ridiculous, but as the non-reality show "Mad Men" portrays, a lot of what is being missed for today’s creatives:
Respect-commanding style. Everyone wore a jacket and tie because, back then, as it still is today, agencies were asking for a lot of money to weave their marketing magic and it was a sign of respect. All too often these days, recruiters are telling candidates they should not wear a suit on an agency interview because it is a “casual, creative environment.” Really? Have we become so tolerant of mediocrity that we no longer have to dress to interview?
One would think that people who consider themselves marketers would understand that you should play to the part you are auditioning for. If you are holding a cup and begging for change on a street corner, by all means keep the shirt and tie in the closet, but if you are trying to win an account, which could literally make your business, why would you display yourself as business casual? It is the mentality that "the work will sell itself" that gets small shops in trouble. If you are a top-tier agency and you don’t get a client, chances are there will be a few more in your stable to fall back on; for the majority of design houses, that is not the case.
It is important to realize that in any aspect of life, whether it is business or personal, from the first moment you make contact with someone, your pitch is started. By the time you get to the actual presentation, it's already half over. The same goes for interviews to work in these so-called casual, creative environments — unless you are applying for a non-paying position, which you should still look good for anyway.
Maybe if the creative industry began to base itself on respect as opposed to comfort, as it once did, more clients would take notice and respond better to rising marketing costs. If you're not sure if that is true, think of it this way: No one would walk into a fine restaurant and expect not to pay top dollar for dinner. If that same meal was served in a fast-food chain, you would only get a fraction of its worth. Marketing is marketing on every level. Don’t sell yourself and your work short. Take the time to develop every aspect of your presentation, from the first meeting to the cashing of the check! In the professional world, every man should own a suit and every woman should own a dress … that they actually use. If you don’t have these tools, go shopping!

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