by Matt Geik
Recently, as I jettisoned from point A on the map to point B, I took some time to do some reading that probably falls more under the title of leisure than anything else. As I flipped through the first couple pages of one of my favorite magazines I came across a two-page advertisement for Dockers and their “Wear The Pants” campaign. I’ll be honest with you and say since the first job I had out of college, where I was required to wear khakis everyday, I’ve taken a hard line and prohibited khakis from entering my wardrobe. Don’t hit the send button on that rules of fashion e-mail just yet! I know they have their place in a well groomed man’s closet; I just haven’t gotten over the trauma of that brown cotton twill experience yet.
With that said, I naturally would have flipped to the next page but the ad caught my eye with its typewriter font wording that made up the torso of a man on top of a pair of Docker’s Khaki’s. In case you haven’t seen it…
Here’s what the those well-tailored words say:
“Once upon a time, men wore the pants and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today, ther are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the sald bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to WEAR THE PANTS.”
Now, before anybody starts talking about gender rolls and asks Destiny’s Child to get back together to perform Independent Women, lets talk about why this is the perfect example of why social excellence is such an important and hot topic with everyone that we work with.
You see the ad plays on the old adage about who wears the pants in a relationship and the ideas of what it means to be a man in days long gone. However, the underlying spirit of those days (sans the overmasculinocentricity) might not be as long gone as people might think. Campus after campus, interview after interview I continue to hear students, both men and women alike, talk to me about what is essentially the lack of social excellence on their campus and in their communities. It comes in the form of the women who are too caddy with their group of three friends, and their Venti Iced Frappuccino’s and matching Coach purses who wouldn’t notice if another person existed with in the same time zone that they’re in. It’s the guy who is walking across campus right now in sweat pants, socks and sandals, texting while listening to his iPod with his hoody up. Or the woman talking on her cell phone to her friend she just walked away from as she attempts to simultaneously place her order in the food court. Its the guy who speeds up to walk in the door and pretends not to see the other person walking out of it with their hands full only to leave them struggling to manage their goods and the door in frustration. It is everywhere and I’m sure you can share some more great examples with me.
For those of you nodding your head right now don’t get ahead of the story, that ruins the fun. For those of you wondering why any of this matters hang in there and read on.
You see when I read that Docker’s ad, I thought of college campuses… students. I thought of Greeks. And in my head that ad should read like this:
“Once upon a time Greeks were our campus leaders. And they led others with class. Students rarely needed to look far for opportunities to be exceptional and little old ladies still never crossed the street alone. Greeks set the example because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, our campuses decided it no longer needed men and women of values. Keg by keg, toga by beer stained toga, Greeks were stripped of their integrity and character and left stranded in the quad somewhere between drunk and social deviant. But today, there are questions for our campuses that no one has answers for. Our campuses sit idly by as organizations crumble and students misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since Dr. Evil, we need heroes. We need Greeks. We need men and women to put down the red Solo cup, step away from the iPod and untie our campuses from the tracks of mediocrity. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of being Greek. It’s time to BE SOCIALLY EXCELLENT.”
So you see, those times aren’t that long gone and certainly not forgotten. Both women and men alike across this country are voicing their disdain for the lack of social excellence that surrounds them. They are searching for it, asking where did it go? They are looking for you to once again set the example. To lead with class. And therein lies an opportunity, wherever you are, to be the one that steps up and helps that old lady cross the street. As a Greek man or woman, you have the ad space and captive audience to make others take note of what it means to be socially excellent and why that matters. The only question that remains is, “What will you do with your opportunity?”
….and can I get Docker’s to send me some of those K-1 Khaki’s? Turns out there’s a place for them right next to my shelf of Social Excellence.