Brand fail? American Apparel employed 1,800 not-so-American workers

AmApAd American Apparel – which runs “the largest garment factory in the United States, at a time when most apparel production has moved offshore” – has been employing 1,800 people “not authorized” to work in the United States.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency found that some 1,600 current employees at American Apparel’s Los Angeles factories appeared to have gained employment due to "suspect and not valid" eligibility documentation.

Perhaps this explains CEO Dov Charney’s support of immigration reform? In fairness to American Apparel, the company gained no financial advantage using the illegal workers. All workers are paid above minimum wage, receive subsidized health care and meals, and can participate in free English classes. The company has also long been on record for complaining how easy it is to fake the papers needed for employment.

Also in fairness, I would be remiss in not mentioning that Mr. Charney has more recently been in the news because he is being sued by Woody Allen over the use of an image from Annie Hall. The irony of these two “personal boundary impaired” men going to court is wonderful. Mr. Allen of course married his step daughter a few years ago. Mr. Charney, whose brand specializes in near-pornographic advertising, is frequently the photographer for these campaigns which use employees as models.

Do not accuse of Mr. Charney of asking more of his employees than of himself, let it be noted that Mr. Charney has publicly defended his practice of walking around his company wearing only American Apparel-made underwear. "There is no evidence to say that you can’t walk around in your underwear all day anywhere in the United States of America."

Given all that you may not find it surprising that Mr. C has been the subject of four sexual-harassment lawsuits brought by former employees, though none have been proved in court. This however is surprising: “In 2004, an article in the now defunct US women’s magazine Jane accused Mr Charney of masturbating in front of the reporter. He never denied the allegation, saying it was consensual.

Sprinkles cupcake store suing other stores over use of “sprinkles”

The Obscure Store unearthed this branding nightmare:

All told, lawyers for Sprinkles said, they have sent about a dozen similar letters to shops around the country and filed three lawsuits, including one last month against Famous Cupcakes in North Hollywood for using dots in its packaging and throughout the store.

Best quote from the story: “The question is whether Sprinkles can lay claim to a word that is commonly used in the context of frosting.”

The only thing I want to know about the context of frosting is do I get to lick the spoon?

Brand violation: Dunkin’ Donuts tries to go healthy

Dunkin’ Donuts will begin offering a new slate of better-for-you offerings in August. The menu, which will debut in stores Aug. 6, will feature two new flatbread sandwiches made with egg whites. Customers will be able to choose either a turkey sausage egg-white sandwich or a vegetable one. Both will be under 300 calories with 9 grams of fat or less, the company said. … The new menu will be called DDSmart and will include all current and new items that either have 25 percent few calories, sugar, fat or sodium than comparable products or contain ingredients that are “nutritionally beneficial,” the company said.

A)Health is not why anyone goes to DD — which was founded in Waltham and is by far the most ubiquitous franchise in Boston. DD is all about reliably bland and (compared to *$) inexpensive coffee and treats. Just the idea that they’ll be bringing vegetables into this temple of cream and sugar makes me unhappy.

B) In tough economic times people want comfort not health. I don’t give this thing a sugar cube’s chance in coffee of surviving.

Frontier Airlines makes the best of a bad (World Series) situation

The Denver-based carrier is running ads in the local papers with the slogan: “Now you know why we don’t fly to Boston.”

frontier2“It was a way for us to throw our support behind the Rockies and in a tongue-and-check way say we’ve got their back,” said Joe Hodas, a spokesman for Frontier, which sponsors the team and showed World Series games on seatback televisions during flights. When pressed, Hodas admitted that the airline stopped flying to Logan International Airport in 2002 because of gate constraints, scheduling issues, and high fuel prices, not the Red Sox. 

The Red Sox or, when your brand changes underneath you

“You can’t be lovable if you’re not losers!” — Jon Stewart on the Red Sox, 10/29/07

That is exactly what is going on with Red Sox Nation. The brand identity until three years ago was The Cursed Ones. For a while after that we were The Redeemed Ones (until The White Sox took that mantle). Now, we are The Successful Ones. The first two had significant qualities that really differentiated the brand from everyone else. They also inspired huge amounts of loyalty among consumers.

As the (hated) Yankees can attest success also inspires huge amounts of loyalty, but it’s taking some getting used to here in the Nation. It’s not a bad thing to get used to — but it is different.

sox ballBefore this year, wearing the Red Sox logo generally got you a certain amount of sympathy and even respect in ballparks outside of New York. Other fans recognized you as someone devoted to the sport. Someone who stuck to your team no matter what and — let’s be honest — someone who rooted for a team that always made the other teams look better. It’s easy to sympathize with fans of a team like that — they’re not a threat. This explains why people outside of St. Louis are so fond of Cubs fans. (Outside of the Midwest, most people don’t realize the antipathy between the Cards and the Cubs. A friend once said that a game between those two teams would sell out even if it was held on Christmas Day during a blizzard. That sums it up.)

Now Sox fans — and their seem to be a lot of them everywhere — are going to have to get used to being reviled. So far the team hasn’t employed any True Villains in the sports marketing sense. Sure Schilling is a blowhard, but he blows just as hard against his own team as he does the opposition.

Stephen (Smarter Than Me) Baker, puts it well:

Hey Red Sox fans. Many of us used to love your team. And now that they’re fabulous, they’re a lot less fun. You may find that it’s lonely at the top. I never thought I’d say this, but I may end up pulling next year for those underdog Yankees.

The real problem will be not the team, but the fans. All this winning is stripping Sox fans of the shreds of humility that used to makes us so much easier to tolerate. We are in danger of collectively turning into what New Hampshire residents like to call Massholes.

Oh, how quickly we forget our four score decades of wandering in the wilderness. Well, if that’s the price of success all I can say is WAIT TILL THIS YEAR!

(BTW: Someone pointed out that the Red Sox didn’t become known as the Red Sox until 1908. Last time the Cubs won a World Series? 1908. Coincidence? I think not. So therefor the Cubs won’t win a Series again until the Sox change their name back to the Americans. While the logic is spurious, consider that I have 99 years of evidence to support it.)

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