Oh, that John Deere sales tag.
Social media exploded this week with a photo of a John Deere sales tag that attacked conventional farming to help sell a 50% organic cotton baby onesie. I contacted John Deere to ask them about it and for an explanation. After all, lots of conventional and GMO farmers spend lots of money on their equipment to raise the crops that this tag disparaged. I received a very disappointing response from the company that, quite frankly, was just not acceptable.
But tonight I was surprised – and relieved – to receive a message from Chuck Studer, Director of Industry Relations at John Deere, regarding my original article and commentary.
Chuck acknowledged that the original response was completely incomplete and did not take responsibility for the brand’s messaging. He also apologized that the text on the sales tag did not reflect the values or the commitments of John Deere.
Chuck also shared with me this (much better) message from John Deere:
First of all, please accept my sincere Thank You for sharing your concern about the text on the garment tag that was routing via social media earlier this week. When the media post was first shared with me late Tuesday evening, that was the first time I was aware of the message it contained. A few other individuals within John Deere received a similar copy from other sources that night, and we immediately began to investigate this matter. The text on the tag certainly did not reflect the viewpoint or values of John Deere. It was both inaccurate and unacceptable, and without your concern and willingness to share it with us, our response would have been delayed further.
The referenced text was associated with a promotional tag utilized by a single licensee of John Deere merchandise in Europe. The tag is being removed from all warehoused items and we will be communicating with our European dealers asking them to remove the tag from any inventory they may have on their shelves or in their warehouse. We are also undertaking an internal review of our existing approval process for licensed products to ensure that future statements connected to the John Deere brand align with our core values and commitments..
John Deere supports choice across agriculture and respects the choices farmers and ranchers make relative to the best production system for their operation. We recognize the value biotechnology and other innovations offer in enhancing agricultural productivity, sustaining our environment, and delivering healthy foods and fibers for everyone. We also respect the right of consumers to select products that align with their values.
Farmers and ranchers around the world make choices every day as they honor their responsibility to be stewards of our natural resources and practice sustainability on their farms. This is true regardless of the production practice that she/he follows – conventional, organic, or other.
We sincerely value your opinions and your business! We acknowledge that the tag and our initial public response did not accurately reflect our commitment to you, and for that we sincerely apologize. John Deere looks forward to continue to work with growers and other industry organizations to provide consumers accurate information about production agricultural. Thank you for your time and please let me know if you have further questions.
I have to admit that I’m quite impressed with John Deere’s response. The company is going to review licensing requirements to make sure this doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, they’re going to remove the offensive tags from their warehouses, and ask dealers in Europe to remove it from in-store inventory. Most importantly, the company is taking action right now.
John Deere is taking responsibility and making it right.
Thank you to everyone that contacted the company and expressed your concerns, frustrations, and unhappiness with this sales tag. It is important to stop this type of marketing wherever it shows up, but especially when employed by agricultural companies. This is the perfect example that a little bit of social media pressure can work for the good guys, too.