INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Lands’ End fights German ad ban with crafty PR ploy

DODGEVILLE, WI: Shot down by Germany’s highest court for promoting its standard unlimited guarantee, Lands’ End has fired back with some PR salvos of its own.

DODGEVILLE, WI: Shot down by Germany’s highest court for promoting its standard unlimited guarantee, Lands’ End has fired back with some PR salvos of its own.

DODGEVILLE, WI: Shot down by Germany’s highest court for promoting

its standard unlimited guarantee, Lands’ End has fired back with some PR

salvos of its own.



Lands’ End, a highly successful catalog retailer, expanded overseas from

its dairyland base to the UK in 1993, Japan in 1994 and Germany in

1996.



But only in the last country has it encountered opposition to its

’Guaranteed.



Period’ trademark which states: ’If you’re not satisfied with any item,

return it to us at any time for an exchange or a refund of its purchase

price.’



While other U.S. catalog merchants (such as L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer)

offer similar guarantees, few German ones do. Several years ago, a

private trade agency - perhaps spurred on by native retailers -

challenged the Lands’ End guarantee as being ’unfair’ and therefore in

violation of German regulations.



Ordered to stop mentioning its traditional guarantee in advertising or

catalogs distributed in the country, Lands’ End appealed. The matter

went all the way up to Germany’s highest court, which ruled in August

that the company’s guarantee was ’economically unfeasible’ and thus

’unfair.’



The company responded by running ads in Germany showing a fly with

’one-day guarantee’ and a washing machine ’guaranteed six months’ along

with the Lands’ End logo and the words ’advertisement forbidden in

Germany.’ This, according to spokeswoman Lisa Mullen, was designed to

mock German companies for both lousy guarantees and backing the suit

against feisty American competition. In England, Lands’ End ran ads

stating: ’A guarantee so good the Germans banned it.’



American marketing know-how and German obstinacy have clashed over

product guarantees before. In the past, Tupperware and Zippo Lighters

were both forced to back off from their usual ’unlimited’

guarantees.



Lands’ End is considering appealing the German court decision to the

European Union.



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