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Guerrilla Marketing and the Ascot Tie

Posted on 16 April 2012

Ceravelo unveiled its ascot ties in New York City this past Thursday, April 12 and met with GQ editor-in-chief, Jim Nelson.

Around 11:00 am I posted in front of the Condé Nast Building on the corner of 42nd and Fashion Ave. It was a cool 65 degrees and the sun was peering through the high rises of Times Square. For those unfamiliar, Condé Nast is home to the tastemakers of the most predominant fashion magazines such as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

Equipped with a voice recorder, business cards and 20 of my favorite ascots I approached unassuming civilians and delivered my pitch, “Excuse me [____], can I interest you in a free ascot?!” Through this interaction I quickly developed some generalizations about New Yorkers. They display a tougher façade than us laid back, granola eating Californians. Also, personal space is highly valued and I was constantly reminded of this with sharp remarks and glaring looks. I was actually quite surprised at the number of disinterested passers-by but then again, ascots aren’t for everyone – even a free ascot.

I typically don’t gamble, yet Ceravelo’s marketing strategy was purely a numbers game. Roughly, for every tenth person that either declined my offer or completely ignored me, one obliged. I’ve also never played the lottery but when kismet placed Jim Nelson, editor-in-chief of the Gentleman’s Quarterly Magazine (GQ), in my path that morning I would liken the feeling to winning the recent $640 million jackpot.

As I approached Jim my stomach dropped but I had to think quick and make a good first impression. Luckily I had just read “This Man’s Style Guide” by Liam Farrell in the first annual style issue of the Notre Dame Magazine. After reading Liam’s article I learned that both Jim Nelson, editor-in-chief, and Michael Hainey, deputy editor, share my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. My instincts kicked in and during my introduction I made sure to mention our connection. Regardless of this fact, Jim came off as an endearing gentleman and rather than cut me off mid-sentence and tell me he was late for a meeting, he stopped to listen. We shared brief dialogue and he graciously accepted my ascot gift.

Theoretically, I could end my story here, post the blog and call it a success, but there’s more. While I chalk up the serendipity with Jim Nelson to kismet, it was God who convinced him that whatever I was saying was worth further exploration. He told me to contact his assistant, Eric, and by noon I was standing in the 9th floor lobby staring at the over-sized GQ cover pages with pictures of John Slattery and Sean “Jay-Z” Carter. Before I had time to settle, Eric welcomed me into their office and I was escorted to meet Justin Doss. A fashion editor for GQ, Doss is also a tastemaker and frontrunner of the street-style movement. I shook hands with Mr. Doss and while admiring his iconic style waited for his queue to deliver Ceravelo’s message.

In a single moment, Ceravelo advanced leaps and bounds by introducing its product to one of the foremost influencers of men’s style. It goes without saying that this old-fashioned marketing strategy proved to be an absolute success. When Justin and I finished our discussion I descended from the GQ headquarters with a new swagger and reestablished my post outside of Conde Nast.

Ceravelo interviewed fashionable men in Times Square for their feedback on the ascot tie

I spent the next few hours passing out business cards and interviewing America’s next top models. In exchange for a free ascot I took the opportunity to capture photographs of some of New York’s sharpest dressed men and get their personal feedback on style and ascots. Here’s what they had to say:

James Mitchell, Fashion Intern for GQ


“I’ve always liked [ascots], but have never tried them because they seem a little too fancy for me. I like dressing up but just don’t have the attitude.”

Shortly after the interview, James and I found an ascot to compliment his smart, dressed down look and he agreed that it’s possible to wear the ascot casually.

Gavin Bnigore, Senior Editor for Vogue, Fashion Designer


“I like this ascot and it’s a piece that I can play around with. Red is a color that provides great contrast and can be worn year around. Red isn’t like a pink or violet. I also like this fabric. It seems like a type of chartreuse.”

Ascot: Bejo

Brad Schwartzman, Sales Representative for Mark Pomerantz


“I love the navy pattern and am picturing an open collar with a blazer.”

Ascot: Dujardin

Anthony Walker, Business and Finance sector of Health Care Management


“I’ve worn these before. I’ve worn it with suits; as well as, jeans, a dress shirt and vest.”

Ascot: Magnolia

Jordan Awan, Art Director for The New Yorker


“They are beautiful. I love the colors. I love the patterns. It’s so important to have these accent pieces.”

Ascot: Jigsaw

Douglas Agyeme, Student in New York


“I love the ascot and have been looking for something like this.”

Ascot: Dr. Domingo



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