A flier, designed to solicit opinions on how to improve the workplace, went up in the agency's halls this week, announcing that "even you creatives" would now have to dress alike. Men would have to wear "collared shirts, cotton trousers and dress shoes," while women were assured that "capris/long shorts are still acceptable as long as they are made from a dress pant material."
"Dress for success!" the flier boomed in large type.
A fairly obvious spoof, right? (A small-type e-mail at the bottom of the flier asks: "Got a better idea about how we do our work? email: firstname.lastname@example.org.")
After all: Big, old-line agencies like Burnett have been desperately trying to shed their corporate images to compete with hipper boutiques, and even the most tone-deaf adman would see this as a counterproductive means to that end.
Some ad bloggers, however, bought it hook, line and sinker, responding alternately with rage, consternation and even pensiveness.
In the second of two posts on the matter, Adscam exploded: "'Should creatives have a dress code?' To which I reply yes... All creatives should wear dresses, including the guys. If I worked at Burnett -- God forbid - I'd fucking show up in a dress... That's enough to give you fucking nightmares, but it would give them second thoughts.."
Daily biz lamented: "The copy, which says that the new dress code will reflect their new professional attitude, begs the question: just what was their attitude before?
And Make the Logo Bigger went so far as to offer a poll to determine what readers thought of a dress code for creatives, as if it were a legitimate question to wrestle with: "Account side, I could see, they deal with clients on a regular basis. Creatives though? Clients expect thick black glasses, iconic tees, funky kicks (funky I say), and ... jeans."
Adpulp, perhaps hedging its bet, posted the photo without comment under the heading "Leo Burnett is buttoning up."
Burnett President Rich Stoddart painted the spoof as part of a larger campaign designed to improve the agency's workplace.
"Our 'Got a better idea?' campaign has a really simple objective -- to encourage the flow of ideas from the people who work here, on how we can improve our agency. Part one of the campaign, 'Dress for Success,' as provocative as it is, is very deliberately, tongue in cheek!"