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American Made, with Swagger August 5, 2010

Posted by usdma2010 in Economic News, Manufacturing.
Tags: , , , , , ,
Jeep has a new ad campaign for the 2011 Cherokee. The tagline is “What makes America are the things we make”. It goes on to tout the fact that the new Cherokee was designed, engineered, and built in the U.S. It then goes into some of the detailed features, both aesthetic and technical.
Interesting approach. I haven’t heard anything like it for a mass-marketed consumer product.
Sure, flag waving has been a staple of ads for everything from laundry detergent to pick-up trucks for years. So have “Main Street” scenes and quintessential looking Americans (wearing t-shirts & jeans usually) posing in factory or warehouse settings to suggest that the products being pitched were made here. And a few years ago Walmart had a series of ads in which they claimed to use American suppliers wherever possible (while imposing a cost structure that forced most of them to China).
But Jeep sets a new tone altogether. It conveys boldness, pride, and a bit of swagger. And here’s the interesting thing: they wouldn’t commit the money to such a campaign if they didn’t think they’d get a positive response. They must have done some level of market research that indicates people think making things here is important. And that hasn’t been a popular notion for the last 10-20 years.

For years, our economy has been dominated by finance, insurance, & real estate (FIRE) and for the most part, nobody’s had a problem with that (as long as their credit limits keep getting increased). But now, maybe, the notion of an economy based on people selling various kinds of financial contracts to each other (i.e. an endless series of bets that you’ll have to pay more to me then I pay to you) isn’t such a great idea. Maybe –just maybe– borrowing money from China to buy products made in China that used to be made here is just a bit short-sighted. Maybe Walmart’s “pay less, live better” is a phony promise when “pay less” also means “make less”… (Money, that is). Maybe it’s better to make money producing real goods of real value rather than hoping to make money speculating on derivatives.

Maybe Jeep has their hands on the national pulse enough to know that an old idea, the manufacturing-based economy, is set to become the new thing.

Let’s hope so.

Chester Genghis