By Jack Ellis
May 07 2012
Perusing the INTA exhibition hall, among the usual names is a charity that works with brands to redistribute counterfeit goods to disadvantaged people the world over. Though this is putting counterfeits to good use, will brand owners be wary of the dangers of placing fakes back onto the market?
Jeff Fields, senior director of corporate relations at humanitarian assistance charity World Vision, told WTR that he is at INTA to promote the idea that brands can do something positive with counterfeits. Companies can donate seized fakes - as well as legitimate products from discontinued lines – to the charity, which gives them to individuals, families and communities in need. One example of this was the dissemination of genuine but unwanted t-shirts printed in advance to celebrate the New England Patriots victory at Super Bowl XLVI. However, the New York Giants won on the night. The National Football League donated the unwanted Patriots victory shirts to World Vision for charitable distribution outside of the United States.
Brands will have understandable concerns, however – not least the apparent contradiction of effectively putting counterfeits back onto the market after having spent a lot of resources on removing them. But Fields offered reassurance about the scheme: “We have a lot of checks and balances to make sure that our partner brands have peace of mind.”
The goods are strategically placed in countries where the brand owner is comfortable for that to happen, whether internationally or domestically. “In many cases the people who are the beneficiaries of this programme would never be able to afford the genuine products, so the brand owner doesn’t have much of a market in those places anyway,” Fields says.
In addition to concern over the safety of counterfeit goods, one worry for brand owners is that the redeployed fake goods may be sold at a later stage in another market, or put up for auction on eBay - a concern that has previously been explored in WTR. However, Fields explains that the motivation to do so is practically non-existent, and that beneficiaries of the scheme must sign an agreement not to sell or exchange the goods once they have received them.
There are many ways in which brands can partner with a charity, and such link-ups can have a positive impact on reputation. But Fields admits that many brands aren’t keen to publicise the fact that they take part in the programme. Perhaps this is because brands are worried that they will be sending a mixed message about counterfeiting to the public. But on the other hand, participating could highlight the company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and have positive reputational results. Whether it is right for your organisation or not, it is an option to be considered.
You need to be logged in to leave comments. Click here to login.