In an end run around Don Scaccia, Anthony Mark Hankins succeeded in winning approval for special oversized hangtags for his garments. He designed them himself, with his picture and signature prominent along with a short bio and statement about the line. Otherwise, though, the company would pay for no marketing at all. And no promotion either. So Hankins and his assistant put together 500 homemade press kits and, through a contact in the mail room, got them out. Then he made a poster prototype and sent it to top management in hopes of approval, which was not forthcoming. So every night before leaving he forced himself to produce four posters . When it was finally time to depart for the trunk shows, he had a portfolio case jammed with enough poster art to cover several stores.
With Ackerman's help, a last-minute coast-to- coast telephone blitz alerted fashion editors to look for the press kits. It worked, and a few editors actually flew into Atlanta to see his first show. There, the posters, hangtags, Hankins's personality, and especially his clothes worked magic. Good ink flowed from Atlanta, and other stories with his picture began popping up all around the country. Anthony was news and the line was launched.
Scaccia was furious. First, about going over his head on the hangtags and posters, then about Hankins's success with the press. The company policy was to sneak a new product into test stores under wraps, see how it sold, and only then consider marketing and promotion. Promotion and PR were verboten until then. Scaccia pulled Hankins off the road and confronted him.
"You knew the rules, Anthony."
"But they just don't compute in my case."
"And you think you're above the law around here, you can do any damn thing you want?"
"Don, be reasonable."
"Well, you can't."
"Look, it doesn't make sense not to promote a new line. How can you test it if nobody knows it's ”?"
"You're not listening , you ”" Scaccia gulped air and leaned forward on his desk. "Anthony. You're gonna do it the right way. Or you're not gonna do anything. At all. Got it?"
"From now on. Everything. Clear everything through me. In writing. And not a peep outta you from now on."
Hankins followed Ackerman's reluctant advice and began checking every little thing with Scaccia. He even tried to be light-hearted about it, entering the vice president's office the first time with a smile and the word "Peep!"
But his assistant was taken from him, and his small budget was cut back. Documents began disappearing from his office. Scaccia found fault with everything about Anthony: his vision, his office procedure, the dolls and toys that cluttered his bookshelves, the way he dressed (never in a suit), his mannerisms (which he began laying on for effect, girlfriend!), and even his race ”very indirectly, but in ways that fed back to him. More than once after being called on the carpet, scolded, and ridiculed by Scaccia, he returned to his office and burst into tears. The little sleep he managed to get during the week became a fitful tossing and turning, and Hankins awoke in the early morning and dressed in a hungover stupor without having taken any drugs or alcohol.
He leaned on Ackerman, then steeled himself, praying and connecting with his mother for long nocturnal soul-searchings. He retaliated by dressing more and more outlandishly. He went from jeans , flannel shirts, and backward baseball caps to attire that brought a steady parade of rubberneckers by his office. One day he entered Scaccia's office wearing an Errol Flynn “inspired pirate's costume with his hair in a bandana. Once again the vice president gaped and leaned forward on his desk. "Where'd you get that ? Some fag shop on Cedar Springs?"
And the Anthony Mark Hankins line was flying out of the test stores.