There is a TV ad that runs very often on Fox News, CNN, et. al. for UPS.
This ad tries to make the argument that UPS can be a competitive advantage. They compare two companies:
“You have overseas suppliers, they have overseas suppliers. You have low-cost manufacturing, they have low-cost manufacturing…. you have an ad agency, they have an ad agency….”
I think the point they are making is that you need more than flashy ads, you need an effective supply chain. That’s a valid message, I can’t take issue with that.
What bugs me is the casual use of the phrases “overseas suppliers” and “low-cost.” The impression I get is that “low-cost” also equals “overseas.” Overseas suppliers, overseas manufacturing…. low cost. That really seems to get drummed into your head. And that’s what bugs me.
Running overseas to chase low labor costs is NOT the only way to have low costs (see KBS Wire, who is able to use lean to be cheap enough to beat Chinese competitors). Running overseas is particularly NOT the way to have an effective or fast supply chain (see Toyota or Dell, who are able to be fast and responsive here in the U.S).
What if the ad said “You have local fast-response suppliers, they have local fast-response suppliers. You have lean domestic factories, they have lean domestic factories.”???
What can “Brown” for lean? I don’t blame UPS for associating “overseas” with “low cost”, they are just echoing the mood and trends of the business community that they serve. I wouldn’t expect them to be lean zealots. Still, I can wish it was different.
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