American Apparel: Unwrapping Ethics
American Apparel, a popular clothing manufacturer, has socially progressive labour policies and uses significant environmental advances in its manufacturing process. In addition, it has a well-established philanthropic arm. Set against these socially responsible policies is the highly sexualized nature of the company’s advertising. This element of the marketing mix seems, at least to some consumers, very much at odds with the other aims and policies of the company. The question facing students is whether this disconnect can be maintained or whether the brand’s advertising should change.
This case is intended for an introductory marketing course and for use as supplementary material to stimulate discussion on marketing ethics. The case presents a company that does well in some areas of social responsibility (labour, environment) but is seen to do far less well in other domains (advertising). The case engages students to discuss marketing ethics and the link between ethics and strategy.
United States, Large, 2012
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