American Joe apparel gets patriotic to bolster profile

Launching a new men's apparel line without a huge marketing budget can be hard. So when T-shirt start-up American Joe was planning marketing for last year, it realized its "Made in America" business model could be a differentiator in an era when many clothing lines are made overseas.

Launching a new men's apparel line without a huge marketing budget can be hard. So when T-shirt start-up American Joe was planning marketing for last year, it realized its "Made in America" business model could be a differentiator in an era when many clothing lines are made overseas.

American Joe managing director, Nan Moon, turned to Eisen Management Group (EMG) to raise the profile of the company's e-commerce and catalog-based business with a patriotic theme.

Strategy
EMG president Rodger Roeser quickly decided the American-made message could reach beyond fashion and men's lifestyle press to all types of media. The team created "Check the Tag," a message to get people to look where their products were made.

Tactics
"We also came up [with] a character, Joe Austin, and gave him a back story and his own blog," Roeser adds. "We set up the online '1912 Club,' where people could join and get more information on Joe and the company."

In addition to traditional media releases and interviews, Moon and Roeser developed a program to meet soldiers returning from Iraq at airports and give them a free, American-made shirt.

"We really stuck to the message that we're a company that sells American-made products," Moon says. "We wanted to raise awareness that there are great products being made [here] in America."

Results
American Joe's patriotic push received coverage from The Dallas Morning News, CNN's Smart-Money, Forbes, and others. Sales rose 300% over the course of the campaign and the company's "1912 Club" attracted thousands of new members.

Future
EMG continues to work with American Joe, including a campaign that urges people to send the label from foreign-made clothing back to the company to receive 10% off on any new purchases.

PR team: American Joe (Austin, TX) and Eisen Management Group (Cleveland)

Campaign: Check the Tag

Duration: April-December 2007

Budget: About $50,000

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