Made in the USA?

It’s that patriotic time of year in the USA when citizens (and shoppers) show their support and pride in America. As could be expected, companies that advertise their patriotism can use it as a very effective marketing tool. After all, people want to be proud of their country and its accomplishments. But, what does it really mean when a company promotes its product as being “made in the USA?”

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if a product is advertised as “Made in the USA” then “all or virtually all” of the product must have been made in the U.S. But, what does “virtually all” mean?

Again, the FTC states that the product should contain no (or negligible) foreign content. This means that all significant parts and processing must be of U.S. origin and final processing must also take place in the U.S. (includes the 50 states, District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories and possessions). These rules also apply to products that might not explicitly claim “made in the USA,” but may use images or American flags or U.S. maps, such as stating “true American quality.”

Take a close look at companies that state “made in the USA” and make sure the claim in legitimate.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What does it mean if a product advertises that it is made in America? What products make this claim?
  2. Show the FTC requirements: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/complying-made-usa-standard and have students examine the requirements.
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team search the Internet for products that claim to be “made in the USA” and examine if the claims are accurate.
  4. For products that do not make a full made in USA claim, what are other messages that could be made to clearly identify origins and processes?

Source:  Truth in Advertising

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