Tag Archives: brand culture

Brand, Iconography and Culture. A Conversation with The Art Guys.

SUITS1“That’s an important methodology for us, to take a wrong-headed idea and take it to the Nth degree.”

My first encounter with The Art Guys was around 1998 as they were launching their SUITS project. Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing, aka The Art Guys, leased advertising space on business suits designed by Todd Oldham and wore them for a year throughout the United States, including a runway walk in Times Square. I’m a brand guy, not an art critic, but I immediately loved this mashup of art, hype and culture.

The New York Times called The Art Guys “a cross between Dada, David Letterman, John Cage and the Smothers Brothers.” Truly, they are outrageous, hilarious and unabashedly entrepreneurial, which reminds me of a few professors here at McCombs.

I re-encountered The Art Guys as I searched Glasstire in preparation for my interview with art journalist Rainey Knudson. Her journal on the Texas art world features a recent work entitled The Art Guys Marry a Plant. I immediately knew it was time to catch up with Galbreth and Massing. (I didn’t know at the time that Michael Galbreth and Rainey Knudson are married, which makes Galbreth a bigamist?)

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CEO Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines on Ethical Branding

George Gau (l) and Gary Kelly (r)
George Gau (l) and Gary Kelly (r)

“It’s about having the right expectations, setting the right example and not straying ethically.”

I was wondering what to write about this week when I saw this new posting of the McCombs Leadership Forum with finance professor George Gau and Gary Kelly, Chairman, President and CEO of Southwest Airlines.

Kelly sits on the advisory council here at the McCombs School, which means despite being a very busy guy with “wake up at two a.m. in a cold sweat” responsibilities, he also devotes significant time giving counsel and support to school leaders and students. He always takes the time to say hello and sounds genuinely interested in chatting, and he offers our students the same warm respect. I hereby declare him an Official Nice Guy, which seems to be a prerequisite for CEO of Southwest Airlines.

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