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Welcome to rachelsays... The blog of Rachel Lewis, containing my thoughts and musings on illustration, design, fashion, music, cakey-bakey goodness, culture and things that I generally find cool. There's also a good chance my own illustration work will pop up on here.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ActionAid targets ASDA in secret message campaign

Just spotted this via @ActionaidUK's twitter feed and I love the concept. Guerilla marketing/advertising + charity campaigning = thumbs up in my book. If you follow Actionaid's campaigns and efforts then you'll know they're waging a bit of a war on Asda at the moment because of their alleged pay level for their foreign workers who make their clothing for George. "If ASDA paid just an extra 2p on a £4 t-shirt, it could mean the difference between poverty and a decent standard of living for the people who make clothes for ASDA George in India."

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Sounds pretty fair to me. The rise of cut price, bargain-tastic, too cheap to be true clothing in the last few years has summoned a kind of collective joy and simultaneous guilt in Britain. Think Primark, supermarket fashion - a dress for £9? Why the hell would you shop anywhere else? If you don't mind the quality and throw your clothes out every year, then it's amazing. But everyone who shops there (I hope anyway...) surely has that voice in the back of their head whispering 'cheap labour...' when they make their purchases. I certainly do. I use to shop ALL the time in George at Asda at uni, seeing as our halls were practically in the carpark and you couldn't beat it for student budget, but you do worry where exactly your money goes, or rather, how far it can stretch. That £4 t-shirt, after you've taken into account raw materials, distribution costs, any kind of profit, what are you left with for the people who actually make it? Not a lot it would seem, if 2p is the difference between poverty and stability. I wouldn't mind paying an extra 2p. Hell, I wouldn't mind paying an extra £2. I avoid Primark, George, etc etc whenever I can but I admit I still buy from there. If there was a guarantee the workers got paid enough to live on then I wouldn't feel so bad. Also when I get start getting paid more, i'll be able to afford to NOT shop in horrible, mass produced shops like that.

So ActionAid have summoned up this campaign and I wholeheartedly support it. Here's what they're doing to raise awareness:

"Campaigners from the charity ActionAid are slipping a secret message into thousands of items of clothing at ASDA stores around the country to highlight the company’s lamentable record on paying poverty wages to factory workers in developing countries.
The secret messages will be placed in clothes’ pockets and any customer who finds them will automatically receive an ActionAid t-shirt and entry into a prize draw to win fair trade food and clothing. They’ll also be invited to send a message to the head of ASDA to demand an improvement in workers' pay." Read more about ActionAid target Asda here.
Simple, brilliant. And I bet you it works. There's nothing better than putting on a jacket you haven't worn for months and finding a tenner in the pocket. This works on that ethos; consumers love finding stuff that seems like it's meant just for them, and also free. What's great is that they've thought this through; "The ActionAid secret messages are made from the same material as clothing labels, so they won’t run or damage clothes if the shopper doesn’t find the label and puts it through the wash." Aha. And I imagine they're not doing anything technically wrong that Asda could sue them for or whatever; so long as they don't ruin the garments, encourage theft, or spread lies about the brand (these seem pretty accurate to me) then I can't see any legal problems, really. I doubt Asda will be happy though! They'll probably get their minions/goblins* to ransack the pockets every morning. (*We used to call the Asda night shift workers such names as this as it always seemed a bit Harry-Potter esque when they'd quietly fill the shelves up at 3am, glaring at you. Usually because you were drunk and trying to figure out if cheesecake is a good idea after Oceana. Respect to the night shift workers. They must have hated us.)
An example of the label you'll find in the clothing.
"The campaign, which started 16th July, will take place in ASDA shops in most major cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. Campaigners will keep on placing the secret messages at ASDA stores every month until the company agrees to pay more to garment workers."
I'm going to go to the North Acton branch of Asda tomorrow lunch and see if they've hit that one. They should do, it's huuuuge. Well, good luck to them. I'll be boycotting George until things change.
I did an illustration for ActionAid about a year ago, click here to check it out, and what it was for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the methods, really original! Not sure about the target though. George have really strict guidelines on the factories they use and each one is independently audited. I think the prices are so good because they buy fabric for the whole walmart corporation and it's mahoosive!