Sometimes not even the “pretty fine print” has the answers consumers are looking for.
A review of TINA.org’s work uncovering (and putting an end to) deceptive made in the USA ad campaigns.
From Walmart to Williams-Sonoma, TINA.org has over the last several years uncovered numerous marketers making deceptive made in the USA claims for products that aren’t as red-white-and-blue as advertised.
Below is a list of companies and entities whose made in the USA claims have run afoul of the FTC’s Made in USA standard — which states that products marketed as made in the USA must be “all or virtually all” made in the United States, meaning they contain no or “negligible” foreign content — and the successful actions TINA.org took to halt the deceptive marketing and protect consumers.
|Company||Year||TINA.org Action||TINA.org’s Findings||Outcome|
|Almay||2015||Complaint to the FTC and New York Attorney General||“Almay Simply American” national ad campaign was replete with U.S. flags and patriotic symbols when 95% of its products did not meet the legal Made in USA standard.||Almay changed its slogan to “Almay the American Look” and later dropped its American slogan altogether.|
|Walmart||2015 and 2016||Complaint to the FTC||Walmart’s website was riddled with hundreds of false made in the USA representations for products that contained imported parts or were entirely made in foreign countries.||Walmart removed its Made in USA labels and added a disclaimer to every product webpage stating that consumers should not rely on the website for accurate origin information.|
|GSA Advantage!||2016||Complaint to U.S. General Services Administration||The GSA Advantage! website contained more than 100 inaccurate made in the USA representations for products made in other countries.||All U.S.-origin errors identified in TINA.org’s sampling were updated or removed.|
|Street Dirt Track||2016||Ad Alert||After the company moved some of its manufacturing overseas, eBay listings for its lift and level kits were inaccurately labeled “Made in USA.”||“Made in USA” label was changed to “Designed in the USA” on one of the products.|
|Target||2017||Complaint to the FTC||Despite a previous FTC investigation, Target’s website was still falsely marketing products as “Made in the USA” when they were wholly or partially made in other countries.||Target addressed all deceptive origin claims in TINA.org’s sampling, either by correcting or removing the origin information.|
|Step2||2017||Warning Letter||Toy company deceptively marketed its product line as “Made in the USA” when 90% of products were wholly or partially made outside of the U.S.||Step2 suspended its made in the USA campaign.|
|Gillette||2018||Complaint to the FTC||National marketing campaign falsely claimed that products were made in Boston when most were made in foreign countries, or contained non-U.S. components.||Gillette removed its deceptive made in the USA marketing materials from publication.|
|Kia||2018||Ad Alert||Company’s 2018 President’s Day commercial claimed Sorento and Optima were “made right here in America” without adequately disclosing that vehicles were only assembled in the U.S.||Kia changed the language in the commercial to “assembled right here in America” and removed the “USA” logo.|
|Wolverine||2018||Ad Alert||Marketing materials for Wolverine’s Original 1000 Mile boots misleadingly represented that the boots were made in the USA when certain materials used in the boots were imported.||Wolverine removed its “Made in the USA” webpage, “Handcrafted in Michigan” banner and #madeinUSA from Instagram posts. It also clarified that the boot is “[b]uilt in Michigan with suede from Italy.”|
|Frank Clegg||2018||Ad Alert||Website banner stated that products have been “Made in America since 1970” without adequately disclosing that its leathers are tanned in Europe and the hides originate in France.||The company removed the phrase “Made in America” from its website.|
|Mercedes-Benz||2019||Warning Letter||National marketing campaign for 2019 Sprinter van claimed the vans are “Built in the USA” when most were imported from Germany and the remainder assembled in the U.S.||Mercedes-Benz USA removed the “Built in the USA” claim from its marketing materials.|
|Williams-Sonoma||2019||Complaint to the FTC||Despite a previous FTC investigation, TINA.org found more than 800 products on Williams-Sonoma websites (including Pottery Barn, Rejuvenation and West Elm) marketed as made in the USA that were either imported or made with imported parts.||The FTC filed an administrative action against Williams-Sonoma, which resulted in a consent order that requires the company to pay $1 million and to stop making false and unsubstantiated U.S.-origin claims about its products.|
For more of TINA.org’s coverage of made in USA marketing claims, click here.
This article was updated on 4/1/20.