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With PR brainstorming, don’t get caught with your pants down

This warning greets guests at Lombard's Enchanted Castle. Although sagging, or saggy, pants have occasionally brought the nation's fashion sense to its knees, for the right companies they could spark some creative PR and marketing angles.
Inside Edge PR

If you are like most people, then you share my sentiment that it's a pretty good idea, at least in public, to wear pants around your waist, not around your thighs.

So imagine my delight earlier this month upon entering Enchanted Castle, the family entertainment center at 1103 S. Main St. in Lombard. There my family was celebrating our twin children's 11th birthday. As we headed inside, a sign by the main entrance issued a proclamation that would have seemed needlessly off-the-wall not many years ago:

"Sagging pants not allowed on these premises," it declared. "Please pull your pants up to your waist before entering."

The words are underscored by a graphic depicting sagging (or "saggy") pants, with the universal "don't do this" slash through it. Was the illustration included just in case those desperately lost souls for whom the directive was created had trouble making heads or tails of its meaning?

The encounter with the Only-in-the-21st-Century sign, in addition to warming my traditional pants-wearing heart, spurs on an array of questions, including these three:

*How thoroughly ecstatic do you suppose the graphic artist must have been to have gotten this assignment?

*How serious was the saggy pants problem at Enchanted Castle for management to have taken the step of contracting for the sign?

*What will be the next generation's signature Mind-Numbing Ridiculous Fashion Statement--you know, the fad that prompts even this generation's saggy-pants devotees to shake their head and pine for the good ol' days of half-decent taste?

All mockery aside, when fastening on our public relations and marketing hat, it's beside the point whether we find saggy pants distasteful, puzzling, amusing or stylish. Vegetarians can own a McDonald's restaurant, right?

Personal preferences can get in the way of profit potential. There is ample talk about the importance of being "fulfilled" in your job or career. On that topic, Amway Founders Crown Brad Duncan, a World Wide Group (WWDB) leader, entertains large audiences at events like Free Enterprise Days conferences with a retort of "fulfill this!"--punctuated by his blowing a raspberry.

Duncan follows up with this insight: the purpose of business is not to achieve some kind of warm 'n' fuzzy feeling, but to make a profit with integrity.

So turning back to the saggy paints saga, instead of getting caught up in our own individual inclinations, our focus should turn to their public relations and marketing potential.

For example, here are a few categories where you could parlay saggy pants into rising media coverage:

Clothing manufacturers and retailers: build on the saggy pants storyline by developing a PR campaign that notes other memorable (or utterly regrettable) fashion twists and turns over time. Tie in your product lines with those milestone moments.

Companies seeking to appeal to the youth culture: touch on the saggy pants phenomenon in demonstrating the extent to which this is a specialized audience. From there, you are well positioned to communicate the nuances of connecting with this segment of the population and how it requires a different approach than older age groups.

So embrace the potential PR good that can come even from those things that you might view, personally, with disdain. Otherwise, you run the risk of having the competition catch you flat-footed—or worse yet, with your pants down.

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