Welcome to our 2012 Olympics Special Report! See the news about the Ralph Lauren Olympic Uniform Made in USA mess? Just another one of those stories where promotional products should have been Made in the USA.
Being a strong supporter and retailer of made in USA promotions, I admit I am biased in favor of manufacturing here in the States. But that’s not why I have a problem with this story. I have a problem with it because it is a total marketing faux pas.
These uniforms are being worn by our most talented athletes on the world stage. Sure, the USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee) could argue that they are operating on an international scale, so what’s the problem with fostering international commerce with uniforms made in China? Valid point. But that isn’t the point.
Like all other similar arguments, you’re promoting an American product (our athletes) that demonstrates our country’s values and strength with a non-American product. Values alert! That IS the problem. Unlike many countries, the United States has the resources to make these items, if not 100 percent, then substantially enough to legally meet made in the USA requirements. As noted in the WSJ article, making them here would have doubled the cost. That’s why we have a higher standard of living in this country that trumps so many nations on earth. We are a fair trade country that has laws to protect workers and their wages. With a higher than usual unemployment here due to the recession, going with USA made uniforms would have demonstrated our commitment to band together for all those on OUR team, both those competing and those who support them with their skills, products and labor. What marketing message are you sending by crying poor? As I always preach, Promo With Purpose, people!
Want more insight on supply chain and Made in the USA issues? See Related Posts below.
In the video accompanying the WSJ story, the reporter said that the Ralph Lauren company probably didn’t anticipate the backlash from the Made in China labels. Really? Ralph Lauren is a marketing and media savvy firm. Has been for decades. With supply chain issues becoming more and more of an issue on environmental and social levels, this is just laughable. Even many of my own itty-bitty clients are specifying USA made and wanting proof.
And Congress, please stay out of this. While I admire Harry Reid’s willingness to publicly take a stand, I can’t believe this would warrant Congressional attention. We do not have state-sponsored athletics. This is a marketing problem.
I am glad to see that Ralph Lauren has made a statement that all future Team USA uniforms would be made in the USA. As they always say about the Olympics, the world will be watching. And the world will be watching these labels for sure.
Bottom line, the marketing message you make with your promotional products must align with the message you want to convey. If it’s “Go USA!,” you better go USA when you buy.
Got an opinion on the situation? I’m sure you do. Share with us in comments. Please, only thoughtful comments relating to the marketing aspect of this. Keep politics out of it! It’s not a political issue. Thanks for letting me vent.
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- Full Ralph Lauren Olympic Story on WSJ.com
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