I like to think of shopping on Amazon.com as the retail equivalent of an embarrassment of riches with more options and products than any sane person can ever sift through. And so this past month after receiving a gift card to the site, I found myself faced with such a limitless amount of choices that I was momentarily stricken with shopper’s paralysis. The only way out of this was to fall back on my old e-commerce standby: books I would never buy otherwise because they’re too big to carry home from the store.
Long before the days of Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” or Old Spice’s “Shirtless Guy in the Bathroom Talking in a Deep Voice,” there was “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt,” the catalyst for all the bizarre and inexplicably intriguing ad campaigns that would follow. The story of “The Man in the Hathaway” has always fascinated me, not only because it hails from the glory days of American sportswear and manufacturing, but because from an advertising standpoint it’s probably one of the smartest ads ever created.