'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
‘HONESTLY MADE’ SOUNDS DECEPTIVE
Recently I bought a pair of pants. When I got home I noticed the Levi Strauss tag said: “Honestly Made™.”
Honestly made? What does that mean? And why is it trade-marked? Does the phrase mean the others products Levi Strauss manufactures, along with everything they’ve ever sold since the company’s inception, have been dishonestly made?
Are they finally coming clean and admitting the company’s guiding principles all these years have been deception and fraud? I suspect not. But to make sure, I went to their website and did a key word search for “honestly made.” The search turned up nothing.
Well, whatever “Honestly Made™” is supposed to mean, the firm’s website was no help. So that means I’ll have to do what I do best: employ wild speculation.
If I had to guess, I’d say the phrase “Honestly Made™” was created by the company’s marketing department rather than the legal or ethics departments. (Ethics department? What am I saying? International corporations don’t have ethics departments. That might hurt the bottom line.)
Here’s how it probably happened. Surveys indicate people are concerned about garments being manufactured in brutal third-world sweatshops. At a high level meeting one day, the head of Marketing said, “We have to come up with a slogan to show customers that we care, that we’d never use brutal third-world sweatshops.”
Junior marketing executive: “How about, ‘We don’t use brutal third-world sweatshops’?”
Representative from the Legal department: “Um, we can’t say that. It would be, uh, technically incorrect.”
Junior exec.: “You mean dishonest?” Legal: “Your word, not mine.”
Another marketing executive: “How about, ‘We pay high wages’?” Legal: “Um, once again that could be construed as a disingenuous declaration of…”
Head of Marketing: “OK, fine. We get the point. C’mon fellas, think. We have to portray the image that we’re not dishonest.” Yet another marketing executive: “How about, ‘Honestly made’?”
Head of Marketing: “Ooh, I like that. Short and sweet. Sounds great and yet says nothing. Hey Legal, get that phrase trade-marked right away so none of our competitors can use it. Good job, guys. Let’s break for lunch.”
And so, they went out for a joyful 3-martini lunch, and put the $600 bill on the company expense account. Meanwhile, brutal third-world sweatshops were making preparations to begin sewing new “Honestly Made™” labels onto thousands of garments. Good thing none of the laborers can read English.
Anyway, that’s my speculation of what might have happened, since the Levi Strauss website doesn’t explain. But you really can’t blame the Marketing department. Their job is to create an image of the product that will entice potential customers to make a purchase. Market research shows if you want to entice customers nowadays, you should focus on these issues: factory working conditions, animal rights, and the environment.
That’s why you can find many products for sale these days with claims such as, “Fair wage” coffee, “Free range” chickens, “Almost rodent hair free” hot dogs, “No blind bunnies” cosmetics, and “Environmental friendly” everything, including soaps, pesticides, and nuclear missiles.
By far, the most popular claim today is that a product is “green.” This implies the product does not harm the environment, and it was produced using a minimal amount of natural resources and energy. In many cases, however, the word “green” means the product is, for example, not blue. Or the word “green” might refer to the tons of cash pouring into the company’s coffers. Who knows?
In conclusion, I’d like to point out this column is very “green” (as it required a minimal amount of energy on my part). Also it is “Honestly Made.” (Sort of.)
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