Duluth Trading Company. I’m in!

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

13 April 2017

Duluth Trading Company. A man’s brand.

Duluth Trading Company commercials rock!

Duluth Trading Company understands its brand. It has few, if any peers, that get IT so clearly. And,the brand is for MEN. Working Men.

Grow a pair

It might just as well challenge everyone to grow a pair. As a result, the theme line of “Get A Pair” says the same thing. And it resonates.

Here I sit at my desk writing this blog. I have on a suit, tie, dress shirt and cufflinks— and yet I covet the Duluth brand. It irreverently addresses the man thing in unapologetic terms. And it does it with great humor. 

Duluth Trading Company and the evolution of work pants

Duluth Trading Company nicely navigates the joke. 

They chide me but don’t make fun of me.

Cleverness in brand always fails

For every rule, there exists an exception. As a result, double entendre and cleverness in execution almost always is tone deaf. Trying to be clever FEELS like advertising. Barriers go up immediately. Think about Citi bank beating the drum on “Citi never sleeps”? The dual meaning brings us out of the persuasive argument.

“Duluth Trading company nails the brand. Even though the campaign is clever, it never seems trite. The campaign feels authentic to me.”

I call it the Steven Spielberg Rule

When you go to a movie, the film demands that you suspend reality. To appreciate the movie, you must forget you are at one. Great films enable it. Flawed films transgress the line.

So, Spielberg needs an editor with autonomy. And each of his movies would be better with an additional 5 minutes of editing. The epic movie Lincoln needed to end when the lanky President walked out of the White House to his doom. But Spielberg needed cleverness. He inserted scenes about a gun shot in a theater— just so the audience, self-consciously, chortled at their own mistake. It was not the audiences mistake. It was the director’s mistake. The BRAND of Spielberg.

This is where Spielberg’s Lincoln should have ended.

The producers of Duluth’s campaign would never have made that mistake.

But tongue-in-cheek works for Duluth trading Company

Men are in on the joke. And we are not the joke. Duluth pokes gentle fun at being a guy and we all get it. Not only get it, we enjoy it. Get a pair works better than Grow a pair precisely because it is ON BRAND. A natural extension of the brand itself.

Why do I care about Duluth Trading Company?

I am admitting here that I only know about branding. I need to hire a professional to hang a picture on my own home. Work pants for me have creases and cuffs. Work shoes are polished. Jackets have no vents. I don’t even mow my own lawn.

And it’s not that I don’t want to do those things. I do. It just that when it comes to any sort of coordination I have two left feet and two right hands (and I’m left-handed). Experience has taught me that anytime I do something on my own it costs me twice as much to fix the new mess I created.

So why do I have a pair of Duluth pants in my closet?

I don’t need to answer that question. Every guy that reads this blog gets it. So, go ahead… grow a pair. The Duluth brand has given you permission to suspend reality and join the masses. Get a pair.


Read about the sad state of the retail category here

Great advertising is tough to create 



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