The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Made in my town, U. S. A.

I’m not a student of big business, except in the sense that a mouse can be said to study the habits of cats. I do know that with the relationship between manufacturer and customer, a pride and loyalty to geography plays a part. I learned this back in the 1970’s when a redneck in a pickup truck tried to run me off the road just because I was driving a MGB. Foreign made cars were evil, and by extension in the eyes of many, I was evil to own one and deserved to be punished.

Japanese auto manufactures solved this problem by building car factories in the United States. I personally know more people who have worked at the Kentucky Toyota plant than I do those at the local Ford plant. The concrete presence of a manufacturing facility trumps the abstract notion of foreign corporate ownership in my perception. Toyota is no longer distant and threatening, it is local and friendly.

The marketing significance of down home flavor may be a generational thing, but after 40 years I still know the words to the Oscar Mayer wiener song.

“Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
That is what I truly want to be
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
Everyone would be in love with me.”

. . . and I think the Wienermobile is one of the coolest things ever imagined. Yet I always and will forever buy Fischer wieners because they operated a meat packing plant locally for many years.  The packing plant is gone, but my loyalty remains.  The same thing with the Colgate-Palmolive plant in the Louisville area that produced wholesome soap and toothpaste, rather than the foreign Proctor & Gamble up the river in Cincinnati that produced strange and alien products.

So, I’d like to take a ride in the Oscar Mayer wienermobile, but I’m not going to buy their hot dogs.


Written by Tom Fox

06/03/2008 at 11:32 am

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