Is STIHL an American or German brand?
Last year, Stihl, the worldwide market leader for chainsaws, published a ten-page special advertising section in BusinessWeek. Impressive. But did you know that STIHL is a German brand?
In the ads, STIHL presents itself as an American manufacturer with headlines focusing on America:
– Built in America
– Serving America
– At Work in America
However STIHL is a German company. Period.
How do I know? Easy. I first went to Germany to a city named Waiblingen when I was 13 years old. My mum had organized an exchange with a German family so I could practice my German language skills. My then pen pal turned out to be my best friend forever, and the rest is history. I have since spent a lot of time in Waiblingen where Stihl’s headquarters are located.
How does Stihl describe itself as American?
It begins with the title “Built in America, beloved worldwide”, and a sub-headline underlining the American origin “For Virginia-based STIHL Inc., a high quality, domestically produced product is more than a business model – it’s a core value.”
The introduction talks about companies bringing back production to the United States “but Stihl… never left.” A description of the American facility follows: 2,000 employees, 260 model variations of equipment and production for the U.S. and over 90 countries. CEO Fred Whyte points out, “… if you are going to be a player in the American market, you have to be a manufacturer in the American market.”
Check here for the full special advertising section
Stihl is not the only brand ignoring its German roots.
Adidas, Puma, T-Mobile, Nivea are German big players with a world-wide presence. They don’t need the quality label “Made in Germany”. But even Haribo or Aldi don’t talk about their origin. For Americans, these are American brands.
I am not sure why Stihl pretends to be American.
My guess? Probably a mix of integration in the American business and pragmatism during WWII.
According to Stihl’s website, the company started in 1931 to sell in the United States. Since 1974, Stihl has a facility in America. Long enough to feel American.
As we are getting closer to Independence Day – in an election year, I can’t stop thinking at the extreme patriotism I observe in the States.
At the same time, Germans traveling the world are still not comfortable saying they are from Germany. Germans eventually started and lost two world wars. Now Germany just win all soccer tournaments. (Hint: we are right now in the middle of the Euro Soccer Tornament!)
Give a look at these pictures. I have never seen anything comparable in France or Germany. Have you?
Foto credit by @STHIL advertising in BusinessWeek