An Open Letter To Open Letters

Dear Open Letter,

I’m writing this to you because I don’t know you personally and so by writing this I can create the illusion of giving you some great advise when really I’m totally driven by my own need to be heard.

I was always passive aggressive. I find that it’s a lot easier to give my opinions freely when I’m quite sure the recipient will never hear them, but, just like at high school, as long as the people at the back of the bus do, that is enough to satisfy me.

You’re probably more famous than me. However, I’m a really normal person or I’ve been around for longer so my opinions are way more valid than yours.

So – please take this advise which will be delivered with sarcasm, patronisation, superiority and if I’ve succeeded in touching enough equally opinionated people in publishing this, also a keen air of moral victory.

I don’t know you personally. I wish I did. I’m gathering everything I know from your work and any surrounding PR because that’s all I need to understand you, and because I feelyou don’t understand something that I do, I am going to write this letter so that you do.

My advise to you is simple. Think what I do. Do what I say. Be who I am. Because I’m more right than you.

If anyone in your circle hasn’t already pointed this out to you, they are just trying to make money out of you. I’m not. But you know, hits on my blog don’t hurt.

Thanks!

Open Letter

Ugg Boots, PETA and the Affiliate Marketeer

The latest piece of click-bait that did the rounds on Facebook last week was a libellous, slanderous article about UGG Australia. It was shared by horrified headline activists who apparently need only a gruesome image and a log line to inform opinion.

You can read the original article in all it’s hysterical, factless glory here. Yahoo have since removed it because of it’s ‘inaccurate and misleading’ but not before over a million Facebook shares.

Meet the author, Zac Johnson, and read about his special affiliate marketing business.

So let’s begin. Original article in BOLD ITALICS, my comments in plain.

Start with a shocking image combing 3 unrelated photos and a snappy caption.

Start with a shocking image combing 3 unrelated photos and a snappy caption.

TITLE: UGG’S AND THEIR UGGly REPUTATION

I’m going to give the author this, if for no other reason than that it is a prediction about what his article will do to UGG’s reputation.

UGG is one of the most popular and fashionable brands in the world when it comes to boots. Everyone wants a pair and they will no doubt be another big seller as we move into the holiday shopping season.

Fine. Other than the fact I am one person who doesn’t particularly like UGG boots and don’t own them, I’ll let the author have this hyperbole.

Anyone can buy a pair of boots, but the majority of people want to pay a few bucks more for that exclusive “UGG” label. While many people know what they are getting with the UGG logo, not too many people know or care what they are really wearing or funding through their purchases.

The beginning of the conspiracy set up.

The reputation of UGGs has two sides. The first is the fluffy and comfortable goodness that everyone wants to see and feel on their feet. However, the real, yet scarcely known story and reputation of UGGs is the horrible treatment that the sheep receive to provide buyers with their wool.

Bearing in mind the authors article is about ‘brand reputation’ he goes onto say that this is a ‘scarcely known story and reputation’. Confused? It get’s better.

But wait… isn’t shaving wool off of a sheep delicately humane?

Well, if not ‘delicately humane’ – sheering sheep is a largely painless process for sheep.  There is a good and balanced article on the impact of sheering on sheep on consumer knowledge site Knoji.   If you need a little refresher on where wool comes from, how a sheep is sheered, and how wool is turned into scarf, you can watch the whole process at CBBC.

Time and time again we are seeing animal-based products and food chains hiding the facts of what really goes into making their products.

Sure. But I hope the author is going to go onto say that UGG are lying and hiding facts, otherwise we could call this conjecture. 

To find out the truth about UGGs and how their products are made, we will take our search to the internet.

Wow.

UGGs actually first became very popular thanks to Pamela Anderson, during her stint on Baywatch. Once Anderson discovered how UGG boots were actually made and that she contributed to the massive increase in sales for the company, she was mortified and has since issued a boycott of her own.  It seems Anderson, 39, thought the boots’ woolly lining was attached to a synthetic backing. In fact, the boots are made from sheepskin with the fur intact. “I thought they were shaved kindly,” she wrote. “People like to tell me all the time that I started that trend – yikes!” 

Sheep skin boots are made of sheep skin SHOCK! This is most hilarious part of the article. I don’t think I need to say much more on this.

Pamela Anderson is a vegan who doesn’t believe in wearing dead animals of any kind, so when she realised UGG sheep skin boots where made of sheep skin she stopped wearing them.  Vegan lifestyles are to be admired, so do not take this as a criticism of her choice, but the implication that she stopped wearing them for any other reason is incorrect.

That’s right! UGGs aren’t removing the wool from the sheep humanely. They are actually removing the SKIN with the WOOL.

So the author finds sheep skin boots being made from sheep skin shocking (wait till I tell him where leather comes from!).

UGG are not removing the wool at all, the meat industry is.  This from the animal welfare section of their website.

“The sheepskin that is used in many UGG products, including our Classic boots, is real fur.  But, unlike mink, lynx and other animals that are raised exclusively for their pelts, sheep are NOT raised for their skins. According to the American Sheep Industry Association, sheep are raised primarily for meat and wool, with the sheepskin being a byproduct, worth less than 10% of the value of the sheep. In fact, at times when there has not been demand, sheepskins have been discarded as waste, sometimes even piled up and burned. This is no different than leather, which is a by-product of the beef industry, put to good use.”

So, UGGS aren’t removing the wool, they are using meat industry by-product.  And nobody is removing the skin from the sheep, but rather the meat from the skin.  This entire sentence is incorrect.

This is only the beginning. It’s one thing to “learn” about how your boots are made; it’s another to actually see pictures and videos of how the animals are treated.  Plenty of web sites and bloggers have a lot to say about UGGs and their methods, but the hidden truth and reputation of these practices aren’t widely known.

This is where things get interesting. To save you the suspense, Zac is about to use a 5 year old video by Pink and PETA that was made as an anti Australian wool industry video.  It does not reference UGGS. But that doesn’t stop our author.

In case you were wondering, UGGs are made from the skin of sheep and, therefore, the sheep are killed to make them (Wikipedia).

UGGs are a by-product of the meat industry so this is misleading at best.

I used to think that the wool was painlessly sheared from the sheep, but I was wrong. There is great pain and animal cruelty involved in making UGG boots. (VAP)

Both sentences are unrelated, and the second is misleading given the facts above. 

Some of the videos I came across while doing research for this article were just horrible. So graphic that I can’t even show them in this post. Even Pink’s PETA video (below) was hard to watch, but the truth is always hard to swallow, and that’s why so many companies get away with hiding their horrible practices.

One wonders what the author was googling on the interweb for his research, because you would think that at some point he would discover than UGG do not use sheep from farms that use these practices.

“UGG is a leader in humane practices regarding the raising of sheep. We actively support efforts of animal rights organizations to end the practice of mulesing by requiring our suppliers to certify that they do not supply any materials or products to Deckers from sheep which have been mulesed.”

Furthermore, Pink has publicly backed away from this video claiming she was ill-informed on the subject. Mulesing was in the process of being phased out in 2007 when this video was made.  Although not fully phased out (apart from in Western Australia) UGG do not use farms where mulesing is practiced.

Get it? UGG are not involved in any of the practices in this video. The video is irrelevant.

While PETA doesn’t have the best reputation in the world, they do what they can to spread awareness on animals in need around the world.

Agreed.

UGG boots are made of sheepskin (yep, a sheep’s skin, people!).

Err, yes. 

The sheep who are killed for UGGs are often Merino sheep—just like Pete (pictured here).

This is correct, but let’s remember this is continued conjecture, since UGG do not farm sheep to kill for their product.

Every year, millions of sheep are castrated, have part of their tails cut off (some even have their horns hot-branded), and then have their throats slit for their skin, which is what UGG boots are made of. All this—just for the sake of a pair of boots. 

Sheep go through this process for the meat industry and the wool industry. They have their throats slit for their MEAT, not wool.  Unsurprisingly, given that the skin is worth less than 10% of the value of the sheep, I’ve been unable to find an exclusive sheep-skin farm anywhere on earth. Do let me know if you do.

So no, Author. Not ‘all this—just for the sake of a pair of boots.’

Actually, none of this ‘just for the sake of a pair of boots.’

PETA and other organizations have released pictures, videos and articles time and time again on animal abuse around the world, just so companies like UGG can’t make their money.

Yep.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the almighty dollar for most of these companies. In the case of UGGs, not many people are aware of the horrible treatment that animals endure just so their customers can wear a fluffy and comfy pair of boots.

It’s impossible to continue breaking the article down at this point since the conclusions are based on thin air.  This paragraph repeats the lie that animals endure cruelty ‘just so customers can wear a fully and comfy pair of boots.’

As much as I would like to say “Boycott UGGs” and go buy a pair of fake UGG boots, this also isn’t the answer. Without going too far off track, even fake UGG boots come with the price tag of mistreated and dead animals. This time, in the “raccoon dog” form.

DailyMail did a great piece on this topic and you can see an excerpt below:

Farmed in horrific conditions in China, the raccoon dog is a species related to the domestic dog. Animal rights activists recently released video showing sickening scenes of them being skinned alive on a Chinese fur farm. But unlike dog or cat fur, which cannot be sold in Britain, there is no ban. As a result, there are fears that, this winter, thousands of unsuspecting Britons may be fooled into buying imitation UGG boots made using pelts of animals skinned alive. Clearly, the counterfeiters are prepared to go to just about any lengths to maximize profits. Across China, underpaid workers are risking their health in tanneries and sweatshops, producing boots for sale to fashion lovers in the West as the real thing.

From UGG’s Facebook page:

‘Without exception, allegations made against UGG in this article do not apply to our products, but to the counterfeits. For example, while we prohibit use of any skins from China because we cannot be sure of humane treatment, counterfeits do use skins from China. We NEVER use raccoon dog or furs of any animal other than sheep, but counterfeits often do. Producers of counterfeit boots do not abide by the standards we have set. We invest millions of dollars to prevent sales of counterfeits; if we stop counterfeiters, we stop the practices we abhor and condemn.’

Strange, this seems like a pretty good argument for buying the real thing to me given UGG’s commitment to animal welfare and sourcing their wool from farms that are not China.

If you find the time to read the full article on DailyMail, you will get to see how UGGs’ parent company, Deckers, takes the time and effort to confiscate these counterfeit boots, but does nothing to stop the abusive methods being used on both sheep and raccoon dogs to make these boots.

A statement from Deckers on this:

‘Eliminating inhumane treatment of sheep, and eliminating the use of raccoon dog fur, are among the reasons UGG devotes significant resources to prevent the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit goods.  We ask consumers to assist in stamping out this plague.  Counterfeit products often use fur that we do not, use sheepskin from sheep not humanely raised, and can contain chemicals which pose health hazards.  For example, fur of raccoon dogs and other animals – which UGG has never and will never use — has turned up in counterfeit UGG products.  Counterfeiting is a social plague that involves global human rights, uses child labor and has health and safety issues. We aggressively pursue counterfeiters, from seizure of product and broad investigations to take-downs of websites, trade boards and auction sites.  We will continue to work with lawmakers, Customs and policing authorities around the world to ensure that fake, inhumane and dangerous product is seized and destroyed, consumers are not duped into buying fake or dangerous products, and counterfeiters are punished.’

Could they do more? Probably.  Should they be accused of cruelty?

Let’s just say for a minute that a company like UGG actually cared about their reputation and wanted to make a change in the right direction.

They do, for commercial reasons if nothing else. But what do they need to change?  Given the article is full of inaccuracies at this point, I’m unsure what UGG are doing wrong.

For sake of argument, let’s also say that money isn’t an issue. (Well, actually it isn’t. UGGs is owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation, which has a nice steady cash flow running through the company. Deckers’ third quarter results show that UGG alone is doing well with over $330 million in sales per quarter. Imagine the difference that could be made with only 1-2% of these financial numbers put to good use on an annual basis.)

Okay….

If UGGs really cared about the treatment of animals and the use of their products, they definitely have the money to do so. There are plenty of ways for businesses to improve their reputation, but the first thing UGGs should do is change their practices and the ways they create their boots.  The next thing on their list should be a total revamp of their brand enhancement. This would include contacting PETA, sending out press releases and contacting all of the major news organizations to let them know about the positive changes being made to the company.

The author has now linked to Brand.com. You can’t read the article because you have to sign up to Brand.com and .. yep, you guessed it, it’s a paid-for service which provides help with SEO and reputation management.

‘To combat negative press, rip off reports, social media attacks,forum posts and other negative search results pertaining to your name or business, you need a leader in online reputation management with time-tested results.’

I wonder if he works with brand.com?

Lets bring this baby home.

The final way for UGGs and Deckers Outdoor Corporation to bring a shimmer of light to their reputation would be for them to start an animal relief foundation to help stop animal abuse around the world. This should also lead them to taking action against counterfeit companies and their abusive practices, not just for financial gain but for ultimately taking a stance against the cruelty done to animals.

If you feel the same way about UGGs and their horrible practices toward animals, show your support with your personal voice and your money. The next time you are looking at those UGG boots and thinking about how nice they would feel on your feet, think about this article and you won’t feel so cozy.

Or think about this article instead.

Please, share this article with a friend and help spread the ugly reputation around UGGs!

Oh, the irony.

The full statement from Yahoo on this article:

[ Editor’s note: It has been brought to our attention that the article that was originally located here was inaccurate and misleading. We looked into the information in conjunction with our content partner Business 2 Community and found that this was in fact the case and have removed the article. The article dis not represent the views of Business 2 Community.]

Shares of this article: Facebook 1.2 Million. Tweets: 5700.

Zac Johnson is delighted with the number of hits he’s received:

A final note. I want to be clear that I respect the decision to live a vegan lifestyle, and pass on products made from animal products.  Associating himself with animal welfare activists hurts their cause by presenting an article that is ill-informed and logically challenged.