By Michael Stodola Special to Published May 08, 2007 at 11:01 AM

I had the pleasure recently of attending a function at a nearby country club.  In fine style, we wished well a veteran ad-man on the doorstep of his retirement.  While standing at the bar, ordering a beverage, an associate approached me -- smiling from ear-to-ear. I inquired as to the source of his folly, and he stated: “I just shaved.”  “You just shaved?” I questioned.  He went on to explain that since we were at a golf club, the bathroom was located in the locker room.  And in the locker room, they supplied fancy-lad members with razors, shaving cream and, most importantly, aftershave.

The latter was a brand associated with old-school barbers and had fallen by the wayside some years ago: “Clubman.” Clubman aftershave was the cat’s pajamas when it first appeared on the market nearly 200 years ago in France.  Today, it’s made in a Los Angeles factory and, let’s face it, the brand has seen better days.  This elixir had the aroma of so many 72-year-old men who had come before us, and my associate was bathed in it.  It was, at once, horrific and hilarious.  It was also an inspiration; several of us ended up visiting the lockers that evening for a shave and, of course, a splash of Clubman.  I felt not only a part of a novel fellowship, I felt like a man.

Yes, I felt like a “Clubman.”

It was a great time and a huge laugh, and yes, Janet made me take a few showers upon my return home. But it made me think.  Not only did I smell the scent of suave masculinity, I smelled opportunity.  So many out-of-favor brands in the past have been rediscovered by a new market and brought back to life.  Not unlike an undervalued security in the stock market, there’s huge upside when you buy low.  There are opportunities, like Clubman, out there in the business/marketing world.  Back in the '80s, Bozell/Detroit helped take Chrysler from worst to first.  Harley-Davidson invested in itself at one of its lowest points.  The liquor industry has several brand comeback stories.

It’s my vision that the entire line of Clubman personal care and shaving products are going to make a giant comeback.  Sure, in the beginning, it may be a novelty but with some sound brand positioning this thing could go large.  Just imagine some efforts to launch it far beyond “the Axe Effect”:  Clubman Super Bowl spots rolling out the new “sport line;” a Clubman team of coed spokeswomen covering campuses; a hot, new “Clubwoman” brand.  Ah, yes, I can smell it now.

The opportunity to elevate great, old brands is out there.  Check out this one now at or the next time you find yourself at an upscale club, barbershop or brothel.  Maybe you, too, can soak in the bouquet that is Clubman.  Smell you later.

Michael Stodola Special to
Michael Stodola is the Creative Director at Boelter + Lincoln – a Milwaukee advertising agency. He loves his job, but not as much as he loves scuba diving, crab cakes or playing with his kids. His favorite thing is sneaking off for dates with his hottie wife. Born and raised in Nebraska, he’s been calling Milwaukee home for well over 10 years. After Michael’s impending death, he’d like to return to this world as your next American Idol®.