Localwashing: the corporate co-opting of local

I’m working on a post about Tea Baggers Gone Wild at the moment. While I’m doing that, I thought that I’d just cut and paste something from Metafilter for you to think about. What I’ve selected is brilliant little piece by a person named Miko, on the emerging corporate strategy of “localwashing.” You can read the original post, as well as the associated comments – some of which are very good – here… Here’s the post:

It’s a different way of thinking about ‘local’ that’s not quite as literal,” says a consumer research consultant in an article running this week in alternative newspapers nationwide. The piece (by Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance) describes the response of global and national companies to the reality that consumers are moving more of their dollars into purchasing at locally owned businesses, representing both a threat, and an opportunity for companies that can successfully rebrand themselves as ‘local’. As with greenwashing before it, ‘localwashing’ seeks to lure customers based on perception of values alone, resulting in such phenomena as Frito-Lay highlighting farmers from 27 states as the “local” growers for its potato chips and Hellman’s Mayonnaise piloting a campaign in Canada to present its product as ‘local’ because most of the ingredients are from North America.

I guess it was just a matter of time…

While it’s upsetting on one hand, I guess it’s good that people are finally starting to get the message about the value of buying local, and keeping their money in their communities.

Oh, and you know what this reminds me of? Remember not too long ago how we had a little dustup here over which was more local – a Budweiser bottled here, or a pint of Arbor Brewing Company ale? I still laugh about that one.

This entry was posted in Agriculture, Food, Local Business, Locally Owned Business, Marketing, Other and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. CC
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    It’s going to be worse that “organic.” There are no rules at all for local. Anything can be considered local in one way or another. Things sold locally, packaged locally, etc are local in their own way. It’s a continuum. Clearly, though, the beer brewed, bottled, and sold in Ypsi is more “local” than that beer made nearby in a bottling plant.

  2. Posted August 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    In case anyone’s interested, I just happened across another article about this Frito-Lay campaign.

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