Say you're at a networking event or, worse, crammed in a packed house waiting for the local Addys to light up the night. You're likely being glad handed and checked out by any number of agency types ... from the ones you'd love to work for to the ... well, ones you'd rather avoid.
Quickly sorting out who to talk to and who to nudge out of the way to reach the buffet used to be a lot easier. Men flaunted their personality in ties, pocket squares, glasses, briefcases ... but, now that the ties have long let loose to open collars and Lasik has left most faces rimless, well... what's left?
The last vestige of male gives: the socks.
How to know what kind of Ad guy you're talking to by his socks:
- Basic black: Chances are you're talking to the new biz guy. Used to spending his day traveling from one cliche corporate headquarters to another, he's mastered the skill of the chameleon - blending in to his environs as if he had been there all along. Save the snazzy socks for those arty guys.
But, there's a chance, too, that you're dealing with the most treacherous kind of ad guy: the irrelevant middle manager who doesn't yet know he's irrelevant. This guy had a good year. An incredible year. A year that has made the agency loyal to him. Sadly, that year was over a decade ago. And since then, things have been ... well, slow and sometimes, frankly, embarrassing. But, like the aging athlete who once won the big game in high school, this guy still believes he's in the glory years. Align with him and take on all his gossipy baggage as your very own.
To tell the difference between these basic blacks, check the shoes. The new biz guy's will be plain and shiny. The irrelevant middle manager, genuinely bad. Possibly even striking a jarring and unpleasant contrast to his pants.
- Striped - horizontal: Ah, this guy. If basic black is the real sales guy, striped horizontal sees himself as the closer. He's the free-wheeling relationship guy. Probably a creative, maybe a strategist. The one who asks about your kids, knows the baseball score and is forgiven for otherwise meeting-inappropriate behavior by the mere fact that everyone loves him. Maybe a former fraternity president or the son of a preacher man, this guy has been center stage his whole life. And, he loves it. He'll be someone you want to meet, but probably won't have a chance to because he'll be busy working his contacts around the room. Hey, Tom, I haven't seen you since [insert event you totally wanted to go to]
- Striped - vertical: Mr. Orderly. Probably has a heavily marked up to-do list in his pocket. Unless he's under 40 - then, it's probably all tucked away in a well-appointed iPhone. Unless he's wearing a tie - then it's definitely a Blackberry. Mr Orderly likely has one of two jobs - account director or information architect. Either way, he's got it together and can probably help you network your way into his agency castle ... IF You can answer the exacting questions he's chef-ed up to weed out candidates who wouldn't positively reflect on his reputation
- Colors - bright: Media department.
- Colors - dull: Oh, the practical creative. The guy who gets the work done. This guy is a little cynical. He's talented, but probably only really shines in one best-at niche. He's got a lot of opinions and big ideas... although, the big ideas are usually about something other than his own job, clients, life. He's great to grouse and drink with... and, could probably help you get your foot in the door, but make no mistake - he's a worker bee (who just might try to convince you he's the one "really" running the show.)
- Argyle: Ah, prep school. These simple socks will often be paired with grungy jeans and a freshly dry-cleaned white button up. Yeah, he's a suit. A contemporary one. Who summers with his extended family in a great place on a blue lake that his dad rents out for the whole month of August. He drives an amazing car that he treats like shit. He goes about his gig with malaise. Stressed? Nah. He's the one guy who can get through the agency ringer unscathed by urgency. And, importantly, he KNOWS EVERYONE. Well, everyone worth knowing.
- White: Who invited the production department?
- None: Web guy! He'll still be talking about the days of playing foosball with Don Norman over beers in the main conference room on a Monday afternoon. A refugee of dot-com, he's trying to make it work in an integrated agency, but is totally jonesing for the days when geeks could be geeks and make a huge fat wad of cash doing it. Better throw in some talk of the newest grand theft auto or feed app to get the chatter flowing.