Opinion: PR Ploy Or Not, Walmart's 'Made In America' Push Means Something

Posted by mmcmullan on 08/28/2013

Via an opinion for Politix, Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul has weighed in on the manufacturing summit hosted by Walmart last week. What business, he asks, does Walmart have hosting a conference on how to revive the American manufacturing sector, when its business model -- dealing in cheap, imported goods -- fostered the offshoring exodus of the last few decades while making the retail giant billions?

This isn't the first time Bentonville has painted itself red, white, and blue. Thirty years ago it draped its stores in Buy America banners to show off the domestically sourced goods on its shelves - but this campaign ended abruptly after a Dateline investigation revealed much of the American-made merchandise actually came from low-cost Asian suppliers.

It's hardly incredulous, either, that the company would tout a Buy American plan, because its merchandising wizards know good PR when they see it: Domestic sourcing is popular, as shown in a national 2012 opinion poll. And an analysis of the 2012 elections confirms as much - the American factory floor was the trendiest advertising image of the campaign cycle.

Still, he concludes, Walmart's Buy American plan is better than no plan at all:

Does it really matter if Walmart's move isn't benevolent? I think not. Just because plenty of holes can be poked in its patriotic PR campaign, its very existence demonstrates a recognizable, market-based demand for American-made products. With manufacturing employment in the States stagnant and little action coming from Washington to promote the sector, maybe the retail giant's calculated response to its customers' desires will spur a domestic manufacturing rebound.

Read the whole opinion on Politix right here.

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