Walmart, Lifetime and ‘The American Dream’

October 3rd, 2016

You’ve got to wonder whether Lifetime was Walmart’s first choice to promote its “investment in the American dream,” aka the retail giant’s continued campaign to purchase an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs. Not only has the basketball hoop maker been cited in the past for pushing misleading Made in the USA claims, some of its products are still made overseas.

For confirmation of this look no further than Walmart’s own blog where an August 10 post says Lifetime is “one supplier we’re working with to re-shore production of several items.”

How much Lifetime currently manufactures outside the U.S. in places like China, which TINA.org last summer found was where one of its basketball hoops was made, is unclear. When TINA.org requested a breakdown of what’s made at home and what’s made abroad, the company ignored the question. Instead, Clint Morris, senior vice president of marketing at Lifetime, said the company employs nearly 2,000 people in the U.S.

But Lifetime also touts its international workforce. For example, the company’s About Us page says (emphasis added):

… the company has grown from 15 employees in a partial warehouse to over 1,500 employees — all over the globe.

Also of note, since TINA.org’s publication of the story on the Chinese-made basketball hoop, an image of the American flag on Lifetime’s website has been rendered decidedly less patriotic (Morris did not respond to a question about the change in text):

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-1-26-37-pm

When asked why Walmart would choose to feature a company with a checkered past when it comes to Made in the USA claims, Walmart spokesman Scott Markley seemed to disagree with the characterization.

“We’ve seen firsthand how Lifetime has been able to create opportunities for people to provide for their families through its commitment to U.S. manufacturing,” he said.

But TINA.org has also documented Walmart’s Made in the USA transgressions. In fact, it was a TINA.org investigation last summer, which readily uncovered more than 100 false and deceptive U.S.-origin claims on Walmart.com, that sparked an FTC inquiry into the retailer’s Made in the USA marketing. And while that inquiry has since been closed based on Walmart’s assurances that it cleaned up its act, TINA.org continues to find misleading U.S.-origin claims on the website of the largest retailer in the world.

So when Walmart says it’s investing in the American dream with Lifetime, maybe your response should echo the title of the song to which this commercial is set: Dream on.

Find more of our coverage on Made in the USA claims here.

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