Shirt Happens

John Hickenlooper would give you the flag off his back.

Mayor John Hickenlooper is Denver's biggest pitchman, but he took that love to a new level this month, actually draping himself in a version of the city flag — a Western shirt patterned with bright-red mountains, a dark-blue sky and a golden sun — along with a bolo tie and an unfortunate sportcoat for the Citizen of the West dinner honoring Hank Brown. The shirt is either the most garish garment ever made, or so bold it's fantastic. Mayoral spokeswoman Sue Cobb doesn't want to say — on the record — which opinion she holds, but she does acknowledge that "there's definitely a buzz around it."

The shirt was produced by Denver's own Rockmount Ranch Wear, which has dressed its share of celebrities. And we could soon see many more of them, since the company may make enough of the Denver-flag shirts for the Democratic National Convention's host committee to sell this summer. The mayor's version (which Hickenlooper paid for himself) is available for $80, but "the convention version would likely be logoed," says Steve Weil, grandson of 106-year-old company founder Jack A. Weil, the oldest working CEO in America.

Jack B. Weil — son of Jack A. and father of Steve — passed away last week, after working in the family business for five decades. Possibly the state's most fun Republican (who had an appropriately appreciative memorial sendoff last week), Jack B. won't be here in person to see DNC delegates sporting Rockmount's Denvercentric design, but we know he's already gotten a good laugh out of it. (For more memories of Jack B. Weil, go to blogs.westword.com.)


Branded! Quiznos is "mmmm...toasty" and Coors has Rocky Mountain spring water, but when it comes to Catholic Charities, which calls itself the state's largest social-service agency, Coloradans tend to draw a brand-name blank. Not over the Catholic Church itself — the faith is doing blessedly well, thank you very much — but over its charitable arm, which has a $30 million annual budget and helps 250,000 people every year with everything from soup kitchens to health clinics to after-school programs for at-risk kids.

"People don't think of us when they think about who to donate to or support," says Catholic Charities spokesman Randy Weinert. "We've never tried to build an image for ourselves; I don't know why." The Salvation Army, Food Bank of the Rockies, the Red Cross and United Way all get bigger billing, he notes — sort of like Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and 7-Up to Catholic Charities' Mr. Pibb. So the organization has embarked on its first brand-name campaign, hoping to pump public perception with TV spots, billboards, radio and print ads. The $75,000 campaign was created pro bono by Blue Onion, a new ad agency run by Norty Frickey — whose dad, attorney Norton Frickey Sr., certainly knew a thing or two about name recognition, judging from his ubiquitous commercials that were burned into the brain of anyone who grew up in the Denver media market.

So what's the new slogan? "That we treat people with compassion and dignity, that we see the people who come to us as more than just someone with their hand out, that all people are fully human and part of God's creations," Weinert says.

It doesn't quite roll off the tongue like "mmmm...toasty," but maybe it will catch on.

 
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