Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to admit that the Kardashian clan is a media, marketing and merchandising powerhouse. So brand extensions are a natural fit… until an disaster erupts like the recent Kardashian sweatshop scandal with allegations about the use of sweatshop and child labor to produce some of their branded product lines.
- Click to read the story at the Huffington Post
- Click to read the exclusive story at RadarOnline
- Click to view the Kardashian Family Accused of Using Sweatshops for Brand on YouTube
Haven’t we heard this story before with brands and celebs such as Nike and Kathie Lee Gifford? Same story, different day.
Here’s the problem… and why I feel sorry for the K-clan. If you’ve done any reading on foreign labor issues in the apparel industry, you’ll soon learn that it’s an absolute muddy mess. The factory that you may have contracted with may also have contracted with a not-so-up-and-up inspector to cover up unacceptable labor practices. Want an in-depth look at the global apparel markets and manufacturing that will just blow your mind? Check out this book…
- Click here for The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of World Trade (Amazon, but not affiliate, link)
The labor practices that the United States and other fair trade countries take for granted are just not the norm outside our borders.
While I don’t know their situation, I would be willing to bet that the Kardashians have an army of advisors working for them on marketing, merchandising, public relations and legal issues. It is unlikely that Kim, her mom, and stylin’ sisters personally inked deals with these less than honorable foreign companies and “bad people.” While I am for fair trade, I am also for fair reporting and fair dealing. The investigation into these allegations is now going on. And until all of these allegations can be confirmed, I will cut the family some slack and abide by another cherished value in our country: innocent until proven guilty. As well, I’m sure their advisory army will have some explaining to do.
I had to chuckle at the statement from one of the labor groups mentioned in the articles that said the Kardashians were making their products in China to make more profit… yep, them and the world’s large multinational corporations. Just to give you an idea of how much is produced in Asia and other low labor cost regions, let’s look at the promotional product industry as an example. My scan of the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) product database, one of the promo industry’s largest, revealed that only about 10% of all products were identified as made in the USA. Only 10%! (With that limited selection, you can see why we opened up the USAandUnionMadePromoShop.com to accommodate our clients who demand USA made.)
With so many contributors to most supply chains, the possibility of a dishonorable link anywhere along the line is a reality. So what should our friends the Kardashians do to help assure that this doesn’t happen again… and what can YOU do to protect your brand from an incident like this with your promotional products? First, I would suggest sticking with made in the USA products. And while the following article was written primarily for nonprofit groups, the suggestions apply to any company or organization that wants to live true to its values.
- Click here to read How Non-Profits Can Avoid a Public Relations Nightmare
- Click here to order my book which discusses more about buying on purpose and on values
On a related note, things are changing in the China labor arena. According to a Wearables magazine article (November/December 2011) on “Rethinking Sourcing,” Chinese workers are striking for better wages and leaving the factories for better jobs. Hmm… looks like they’ve got the collective bargaining bug.
Got some advice for the K-fam or for fellow marketers on sourcing issues? Share with us in Comments below.
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