Monday, February 13, 2006

An open letter to Dick Smith

This post is simulcast on Glutbusters, and submitted as a letter to the Editor of The Age.


Dear Mr Smith,

We support your efforts to maintain an Australian heritage. Your recent efforts to prevent logging of Tasmania's Recherche Bay, your ongoing dedication to establishing Australian publications like Australian Geographic and the Australian Encyclopaedia and finally your Dick Smith Foods range are valiant attempts to promote a self-sustainable Australian culture and heritage.

Like you, we appreciate the logic that '[t]here are two key reasons to support Australian-owned companies – profits stay in Australia and jobs are created for Australians. If every Australian redirects $10 per week from foreign owned companies and foreign made products to Australian, Australia would save $4 billion per year and create 100,000 new jobs.' And of course, the use of your name and image in connection with these campaigns has indelibly linked you with the Australian made campaign.

But probably the most prominent use of the Dick Smith name and image is by your original business venture, Dick Smith Electronics. The website for Dick Smith Electronics explains the decision to use your name and likeness even after the sale of your business.

It's terrific that, well after the sale, the public still knows your face and associates you with a particular set of values.

Marketing material for Dick Smith Electronics states that 'a team of buyers scour the world looking for suitable products.' The list of brands stocked by Dick Smith indicates that this search is not in vain: the vast majority of brands for sale in DSE outlets is imported. Anecdotally, this observation is borne out by our latest trip to Dick Smith Electronics, to buy a (Chinese-made) DSE-branded stopwatch.

We would be interested to know how you reconcile the use of your name and image (both before and after the sale of your business) to endorse imported electronic products with your ongoing and passionate campaign to promote Australian products.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peter (Glutbusters) and Clare (HandcuffedLightning)

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