Dr. Tantillo’s 30-Second “How To”

How To Brand CSR The American Apparel Way

Folks, I’ve said I wanted to focus on CSR, so today I’m going to do it!  American Apparel has gotten some notoriety and controversy for its racy ads, but they’ve also gotten some headlines for their unique approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). 

Today, I want to let the American Apparel experience take us through a “How To” Brand and do CSR at the same time.  They’ve put the two together in a dollar and cents way and, wow, how it works!

  1. CSR has got to be a clear and common sense part of your brand – and hopefully your brand name.  American Apparel makes a point of telling the consumer that all their clothes are made in the USA.  “American” is a part of their name!
  2. CSR has got to make “bottom line” business sense – American Apparel’s decision to make all their clothes in the U.S. makes them unusual in the clothing industry.  Making the clothes costs more.  But because of the popular CSR “Made in America” platform (and the anti-sweatshop movement), American Apparel can sell their clothes at higher price that stil generate excellent profit margins!  Their brand is all about doing things “the right way” and consumers are willing to pay for that!
  3. Your brand and CSR have to constantly and consistently support each other – American Apparel lets consumers know that they treat their workers right (high wages and health care).  Check out their site and you can’t miss the message.
  4. Sometimes CSR can be controversial –and that’s fine as long as your target market agrees with your side of the controvery – American Apparel has taken a pro-immigration stance that it knows is popular with its target market, re-enforces its edgy and provocative brand reputation and reminds consumers where it makes its clothes (Los Angeles).  “Made in Downtown LA” is prominent on their labels and the immigration issue is tied to where they make the clothes (their site is here).

Remember, CSR can definitely work … if you keep marketing in mind!


If you’re going to do CSR, it’s got to be a natural part of your brand and your bottomline!


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  • 3/4/2010 2:25 AM Bruce Pierce wrote:
    How does an entity coordinate this "branding" with diversity? It seems that American Apparel lacks american workers and its population does not necessarily reflect its metropolis...how socially responsible is this?
    Reply to this

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