Dave Schiff, Scott Prindle and John Kieselhorst are marketing and design veterans of renowned advertising agency Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. Their new venture, Made Movement, is an ad agency and flash-sale website designed to promote U.S. manufacturers and to spell out the social, environmental and economic benefits behind the 'Made in USA' label.
The company focuses on all manner of consumer goods, but implications for the nutrition industry as a whole are manifold. Nutrition Business Journal spoke to Made at their offices in Boulder, Colo.
Nutrition Business Journal: What’s so great about buying American?
Dave Schiff: For us, buying American is akin to the organic movement. It used to be a niche, hippie thing. Next thing you know, it’s at Walmart, because consumers are asking for it. Not because Walmart is this altruistic entity, but they know that, in order to do business, they are going to need to have organic. We see the same sort of arc for products that are made in America.
And it's not the overzealous redneck of yesteryear. It’s the enlightened consumer saying, when I buy something American, first and foremost, I get a great product. Yesterday’s consumer thought, ‘I have to buy American. I have to accept a lesser product in service of the country.’ That doesn’t feel very fun.
If you buy American, you are going to get something great, but, in addition to that, there is a smaller carbon footprint because stuff isn’t getting shipped all over the place. EPA regulations are followed. Stuff is not getting dumped into rivers. There are fair labor practices. And best of all, someone has a job. There are some great statistics here. One of them is, if all Americans bought 1% more product made in the United States, it would create 250,000 new jobs.
There is also something called the ‘multiplier effect.’ When a dollar is spent on a product or good that has been made in the United States, on top of that dollar it generates $1.40 in revenue or output from surrounding sectors of the economy. The factory has to be built, the workers have to eat, all this stuff has to happen.
For instance, we asked ourselves if we would ever work on Toyota. And the answer was yes, we would, if it was on Tundra or one of the cars that was made in Indiana, because the country would reap the benefits of all those manufacturing jobs.
We found similar statistics for agriculture. Just as every dollar spent on a U.S. good puts another $1.40 in output from surrounding sectors of the economy, that figure for agriculture is $1.00 produces another $1.20.
NBJ: Where are these stats coming from?
DS: They’re from the Department of Commerce, and from a book called Make It in America. Just for comparison, a service job adds another 70 cents, so that's why service jobs don’t do a whole lot of good for the surrounding economy. We are proponents of ‘Made in USA,’ but we like the fact that it lets us tick these other boxes—environmental, community-oriented, fair labor. We would work on food, but the food would not be…
John Kieselhorst: … Domino’s Pizza.
DS: Right. It would have to be something with shared values, and organic is a natural place to look. Food feels like a good fit.
JK: It also feels like the future. Organic feels like a more innovative part of the economy. It feels like a more innovative part of the food business in general, and that's where we want to be.
NBJ: Is it important to market to causes?
DS: It's hard to be proud of yourself in advertising, but right now, cause marketing is huge. All the big brands are scrambling to find some cause that they can glom onto. Some of them have a product that is relevant to the cause but some of them don’t, like Coke. You drink a Coke and we are going to give X amount to a polar bear—they have to bolt something on that is very clunky because just selling their product isn’t necessarily great for the world. The one-for-ones—TOMS and the water at Starbucks—are awesome, but it is a manufactured dynamic.
With Made it's seamless. That's what I love. You can’t count on someone to build a lifestyle around a cause. If a tsunami hits, you can count on someone to cut a check to United Way, but you can’t count on someone to be a tsunami guy or be a Unicef guy. You can definitely count on people to buy things for themselves.
Consumerism is not going away. As a consumer, if I can indulge myself and rationalize that I am doing some good, where do I sign up? There is no bolt-on necessary—it is all an endemic part of the process. You buy stuff that is made in America, good things happen for Americans.
NBJ: That’s another way that it’s similar to organic. Some people are willing to pay more because they think it’s good, but price is the big issue preventing organic from growing to more than 4% of the food supply.
Scott Prindle: We see the price point issue as well. You can get an American made shirt, but it’s $200, versus $40 from wherever. Organic is similar. You are paying more, but you know what you're getting. It just can’t be too much more.
NBJ: Organic has the clout to be a bit more expensive, plus it can own the conversation about being better for farmers. Can big business use that same logic for its workers?
DS: For organic, people, whether they’re consumers or producers, can say, ‘I am good because I am buying something good for me or I am making something good for people and I am smaller than the big guys.’ But now there is also something cool in congratulating yourself. ‘Hey, this is manufacturing. It's creating jobs, and it's good for the economy.’
There was this time where manufacturing was looked at as drudgery. It lost any sort of appeal that it may have had around World War II, where you were a hero, helping the country move forward. That image has been gone for so long that I wonder if kids are actually fascinated by it again. That's part of how we see our job—how do we make manufacturing sexy again? Sewing jeans or making solar cells—it should be up there with astronaut, cop, firefighter.
Will people pay more for U.S.-made products?
NBJ: It seems like you could really get bogged down in constantly asking, ‘What business do we take or not take?’ Do you anticipate it as a challenge?
DS: Yes. One good thing is that brands of all sizes have to have offerings that are sustainable. You are just not going to be in business otherwise. Consumers are asking for it, and that's what is driving it.
JK: Apple is now talking about it, as a direct result of those Times articles.
DS: Right. Apple takes some heat in the New York Times and then everybody says, ‘Okay, we are going to pay these workers more money and give them more humane conditions.’ Then, all of a sudden, the labor cost goes up—which it should—and now Apple asks itself, ‘If we could pay that here and get it here, why don’t we do it here?’
It was estimated that it would cost $65 more to make an iPhone in the United States. When we set out, we said, ‘Maybe part of our job as an organization is to brand that extra $65 as cool enough and progressive enough that people will pay for it.’ It won’t be everyone, but I bet you anything that if, for $70 more, Apple marketed a ‘Made in USA’ iPhone, with a little red, white and blue apple symbol, and they did some sort of limited-edition sale, it would sell out immediately.
We’ve talked about the old-school ‘Made in USA’ on the back of the rusty pick-up being the axiom. But that notion of ‘American manufacturing as Americana’ can be destructive. It is cool that America makes jeans, boots and axes, but it can’t be relegated to that. American manufacturing has to get into tech—there has to be an American smartphone, an American flat-screen television, an American renewable energy industry. If that doesn’t happen, and the innovation that goes with that doesn’t happen, then we are in trouble. R&D has to be near manufacturing.
NBJ: Do you intend to do local, or is local the United States?
DS: In a global economy, local is ‘Made in USA.’ We’ve asked ourselves if we should be ‘Made in Colorado.’ Farm-to-table is a different issue, where I'm going to eat within a 200-mile radius. That's unique to food. But a belt that was made in Ohio is good, when the alternative is one made in Bangladesh.
SP: We have had a number of clients reach out of us, and a couple of those we have signed on. They aren't coming to us to lead with ‘Made in USA’ advertising. They are leading with one of these other areas. ‘Made in USA’ can be discoverable—it can be a part of the whole picture. On the local side, it is more about these entrepreneurs who have been in business making stuff overseas and they want shorter supply chains, so they can be more agile and get product to market quicker.
NBJ: Perhaps, though, there are some things that make more sense to manufacture abroad?
DS: Twenty years from now, if we became the most successful agency in the history of man, what would the world look like to us? It’s not that the United States makes everything and exports to all other nations. It's that things are made, in general, closer to where they are consumed. People have jobs and they are consuming some of what they make—not all of it, because it is a global world. Our agency might have a Brazil office. Made Brazil. Made UK.
NBJ: So along with the marketing agency, you have a flash-sale website. How are those two entities integrated?
DS: We want Made to be fun. We don’t want it to be sanctimonious. It has to be fun, it has to be consumer-driven, it has to be somewhat indulgent. So, we thought, what about shopping? What if we became a case study? Over here we are saying that good things happen when you buy American. Let’s prove it over here.
The flash-sale model has been very successful—Gilt Groupe, Fab, Rue La La, all these places. We meshed it with product aggregation. There are aggregate sites of U.S. products on the web, but they are horrible. They sell plastic tents, galvanized fence tubing. You look at it and you say, I don’t know if I am really about ‘Made in USA.’ Is that the best we have to offer?’
So we have a designer who curates cool U.S. products, pulls in the objects and she makes these really creative themes. The point is, when you look at those premium, fashion-forward products aggregated, you think, ‘Wow, “Made in USA” can be awesome.’ Part of our mission is to help U.S. manufacturers excel in their category. The other part is to rebrand what ‘Made in USA’ means.