Corporate Eye

Gap’s Made in USA Mistake Offers Lesson to Learn From

gap-feed-bags-chinaRetailer Gap offers another example this year that marketers can learn from.  Earlier this year, Gap suffered from negative backlash after releasing a lackluster logo and reverting to the old logo a week later.  This month, the brand is in the news again related to its holiday social responsibility efforts.

In support of the anti-hunger FEED Projects charity, Gap is selling limited edition bags imprinted with “FEED” along with promotional materials that hype the “Made in the USA” message.  For each bag purchased by a consumer, Gap will donate $5 to U.S. school lunch programs.

Sounds like a great way to help a charity, right?  Well, there is a problem with Gap’s promotional efforts.  Despite the “Made in the USA” promotional materials, the bags were made in China — a fact that is evident on a tag which is sewn into the bags and says two things on it — “Gap” and “Made in China.”  You can see larger pictures of the bag with the Made in China tag and promotional materials here.

This is a mistake that was certainly unintentional but unfortunately, puts Gap in the middle of negative conversations across the social web for the second time in the same year.  It’s a lesson that all marketers can learn from.  Make sure all aspects of your marketing campaigns accurately reflect your brand message, image, and promise.

Gap did issue an apology (read it on BrandChannel where the story broke) and pulled the bags from the campaign, but it demonstrates how quickly information can spread across the Internet (check out the post and survey about it on The Huffington Post) and how careful companies have to be when it comes to every aspect of their marketing campaigns.  Well-known brands are held up to high levels of scrutiny, particularly when charities and cause marketing are connected to those brands.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.