Commentary

Made In America: A Postmodern Dadaist's New Mantra

The operative modifier in stories following up on the Wall Street Journal’s beat yesterday that Alex Bogusky is “returning to the advertising industry after a two-year absence” is the phrase “kinda, sorta.” As the WSJ’s Suzanne Vranica reports, the former creative director and partner at Crispin Porter + Bogusky will only be spending half his toiling day doing whatever it is that “creative gurus” do at Made Movement LLC, the five-month-old agency that only handles brands made in the US of A.  

As that has a lot -- along with camaraderie -- to do with why Bogusky is getting back into the ad biz after leaving what he called "the best job on the planet" to create The FearLess Revolution, a consultancy and public speaking platform that aims to “help big companies and titans of industry uncover the consumer advocate hiding inside the layers of corporate BS.”

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"Red, white and blue is the new green," he tells Vranica. And Made Movement has the brushes and rollers poised to repaint the consumer landscape.

“The folks at Made, which was founded by Dave Schiff, Scott Prindle and John Kieselhorst [all CP+B ex-pats], have not only welcomed their old pal Bogusky aboard, but have launched the Made Collection, which includes American-made goods that you can shop for on a flash-sale website,” reportsMediabistro’s “AgencySpy” blogger, Kiran Aditham, whose post includes an embedded Vimeo video titled “Shopping With a Mission.”

“American manufacturing is being reborn, and all of a sudden there are lots of sexy, stylish premium American-made products out there to choose from,” the cheery voiceover tells us. 

The video is actually a teaser for online flash sales of American-made products that also claims to be a “discovery engine.” What’s more, it raises shopping to a higher level of purpose than mere ego gratification or self-indulgence.

“Doing something for yourself is doing something for America,” it is written -- a theme will be pounded home with features like a  “Boom” score, which is a running tally of the impact that your purchases have on the interwoven fibers of the American economy.

Lest we think that all this is being engineered by some stogie-puffing capitalist off the Monopoly box, the video concludes with the information that the folks behind the movement are not “a bunch of people in a huge skyscraper” but, rather, “a handful of people in Boulder, Colorado, who love shopping as much as we love America.”

This burgeoning movement "is seen less as a play for patriotism and more as a signal of a better product," Allen Adamson, a managing director of branding agency Landor Associates tells Vranica.

We saw some of this quality-focused jingoism surface last week in coverage of Goggle’s Nexus Q home media player (although some follow-up stories reveal –- gasp! -- that just because it’s “‘designed and manufactured in the USA doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a purely American production,” as Wired’s Alexandra Chang reports about iFixit’s “teardown” of the device).

Meanwhile, it seems like “reshore” has become the new “outsource” in the language that known in lower-upper-middle-wannabe-titan management circles as “consultese.” There’s the Reshoring Initiative, founded in 2010 by Harry Moser, the former president of what is now GF AgieCharmilles

There’s NPR’s Annie Baxter reporting on manufacturers such as Minnesota-based Hiawatha Rubber Co. “reshoring” some production that was being “botched” by a factory in China. 

Then there’s Boston Consulting Group managing director Hal Sirkin predicting on “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” that rising labor costs in China and other countries will "reshore" two to three million manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. during the next decade. 

So, it seems, that Made Movement -- with Bogusky aboard -- is riding the crest of a wave that’s gathering considerable momentum even if it has quite yet hit the beach yet, as employment figures testify.

"To say Alex is an asset is understating it," Dave Schiff, Made Movement partner, chief creative officer and visitor at “5 county jails in 3 different states, including Florida, Colorado and New York,” says in a statement quoted byBusinessInsider’s Laura Stampler. “He's a guy with the uncanny ability to peek around corners and see what's coming next. He's a compass for where we're headed, a barometer for the quality of our work and an impassioned co-conspirator in our enterprise. More than that, he's a friend."

He’s also the “advertising Dadaist, postmodern media manipulator, pop-culture Houdini, daddy of 21st-century advertising, and … seeker of meaning on the dirt path of life” who toldFast Company’s Danielle Sacks a couple of years ago: “You compromise your voice slowly over time, and then you have a moment where you're like, Wow, that really isn't what I think."

“That moment came," Sacks reveals,” at a conference in 2009 when an audience member asked him about his client, Coke Zero, and the obesity epidemic. "I had some clever capitalist answer," Bogusky, who won't let his children eat or drink artificial sweeteners, tells her. "I heard my mouth disconnected from my soul." 

What better mantra to reconnect the two for a postmodern Dadaist Houdini than “Made in America”?

3 comments about "Made In America: A Postmodern Dadaist's New Mantra".
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  1. George Parker from Parker Consultants, July 11, 2012 at 10:20 a.m.

    As I point out on "AdScam", Made Movement's clients include the Bozeman Watch Co., based in Montana. OK… Question guys… Are the watches 100% American? ‘Cos on your Website it says… "These specialty movements are created by some of finest movement makers in the world." Might they perhaps be from that mountainous country where Mitt stashes some of his money. Last time I looked, it wasn't part of the US.
    Cheers/George "AdScam" Parker

  2. George Parker from Parker Consultants, July 11, 2012 at 11:32 a.m.

    And did you notice... The MadeMovement Web page doesn't work. Did they outsource it to China?
    Cheers/George "AdScam" Parker

  3. doug render from spotxchange, July 11, 2012 at 4:45 p.m.

    Insource that!

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