Klein Unveiling How and Why Major Companies Shifted Their Focus from Manufacturing to Branding and Its Effects in a Global Perspective

Topics: Focus

“Savvy ad agencies have all moved away from the idea that they are flogging a product made by someone else, and have come to think of themselves instead as brand factories, hammering out what is of true value: the idea, the lifestyle, the attitude. Brand builders are the new primary producers in our so-called knowledge economy.” (Klein 196)

This part of Klein’s writing tells us that companies have shifted their focus from the actual manufacturing of the product to the brand of the product.

They are now more focused on how to capture an audience through other marketing aspects (e.g. commercial, endorsements, etc.). Companies have disassociated themselves with how their product is being made. By allowing a company to solely focus on its brand, it’s allowing them to be blind to how their physical product is being made and the consequences to their workers in other countries. As a consumer, we normally see only what the company shows us, which we call a brand.

This ties into the movie that we watched in class where we get to see the perspective of the banana workers in Jamaica and workers in the Free Zone instead of what the companies truly want us to see.

Klein uses statistics from the 1970’s-1990’s to show us different aspects of how this shift happened and the pressures it put on both workers in other countries and other Western companies. Klein explains how Nike really set the boundaries for this shift in company interest by starting out as a import/export scheme where they didn’t actually own any of their own factories.

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Since they based their factories in Japan, it allowed Nike to pay smaller wages to their workers and avoid American worker laws (such as age, allotted breaks, etc.), which in turn allows them to reach for a higher price markup and use the extra money on branding their company through athletic endorsements and other markets. Klein then goes on to explain how this encouraged other companies to do the same. She explains how companies that were doing just fine without this type of branding also started to feel the pressures to conform from platforms such as Wall Street. She talks about how the company Sara Lee, even though in the midst of their highest success, was put in a headlock when Wall Street wouldn’t increase the value of stock in their company, which in turn led Sara Lee to outsource and close down several of its American plants.

We saw in The Global Assembly Line how the Free Zone workers were the product of outsourcing not just from America, but also countries like England. These workers, though working for ridiculously low wages, are still in fear of losing their jobs to countries that will do the work for cheaper (i.e. Mexico) which makes them reluctant to speak out to their government about the conditions of their jobs. This shows how major corporations really do rule the world in the sense that they always have control over the working class with the threat that they can and will be replaced, just as the American workers were replaced with workers from the Caribbean and how those workers are slowly being replaced with Asian workers being imported to do their jobs. We were also made aware by the film that even if these workers did speak out to their own governments and their governments decided to do something about it, when it comes to representation on the UN board, their governments truly have no power considering the amount of representation at the UN is based on how large the country’s economy is, which leaves the US in the lead with 17% followed by Japan and Germany. One of the men in the film explains to us how Western cultures control about 80% of the UN, which means anything the smaller countries try to do through the UN would require multiple Western cultures to be on their side. Since the Western cultures aren’t being harmed, there is no point in them sticking their necks out for the smaller countries that are the recipients of those same Western cultures’ factories’ horrible working conditions and wages.

This article was written to uncover some of what these companies are doing and make it known that what they’re doing is not a coincidence by any means. Klein uses the example that the spokesperson for the company Levi Strauss, Robert Haas, told American people when they were getting laid off by the thousands, that their eliminated jobs weren’t “leaving” but rather they were evaporating and there was nothing they could do about it, and then less than 5 months later, opened up several plants in China and employed Asian workers for a fraction of the cost. Klein, later on in the article, picks apart about what she calls the trickle-down theory, the theory that allowing these factories to be built in your country will help to employ your people without jobs. She explains how in theory it makes sense for countries like the Philippines to allow these factories to be set up to create more jobs for their country’s working class, but the wages for people working in these “zones” are so low that they hardly can pay rent off of them, nevertheless buy anything other than food, especially not the goods that the workers work so hard to make for those major companies. Klein really uses this article to unveil how and why these major companies have decided to switch their focus from manufacturing to branding and what the effects of those companies decisions truly are in a global perspective.

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Klein Unveiling How and Why Major Companies Shifted Their Focus from Manufacturing to Branding and Its Effects in a Global Perspective. (2023, May 01). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/klein-unveiling-how-and-why-major-companies-shifted-their-focus-from-manufacturing-to-branding-and-its-effects-in-a-global-perspective/

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