Crime Does Pay – Prison Chic in Marketing

Vandaag een blog uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk: inzet voor gevangenen en gevangenen die zich inzetten.

Would you want your business to be associated with criminals? I’m sure many people would go to great lengths to disassociate themselves from any kind of criminal activity but there are a handful of brands doing quite the reverse. I’m going to tell you about three great brands that have made prisons and inmates a central aspect of their manufacturing and marketing. One thing they all have in common is a focus on the ethical and social considerations of providing vocational opportunities and training for prisoners, so that they can be more easily assimilated into society after release. Another thing they all do, which is somewhat less ethical, is trade on the value of the bad boy image of the cool criminal. These brands ironically allow consumers to flirt with the attraction of the criminal underworld while simultaneously working to prevent criminals from reoffending.

1. Bad Boy’s Bakery

Bad Boys’ Bakery is a British company producing baked goods for major chains like Caffè Nero. This social enterprise is based inside HM Prison in Brixton, London. It was set up by international star chef and professional potty-mouth Gordon Ramsey, for his program Gordon Behind Bars.

Gordon and his team thought that teaching prisoners cooking skills could improve their self confidence, thereby helping them turn their lives around after they are released. On their website Bad Boys’ Bakery say their aim is to “reduce reoffending rates by training bakers on the inside, and helping them find work once released from prison.”

Gordon Ramsey Bad Boys Prison2. Gaolhouse Denim

Gaolhouse Denim are another British company, but with more grassroots origins than the celebrity endorsed Bad Boy’s Bakery. They have a similar mission to teach skills to people with convictions and also provide opportunities for them on the outside. Of the 85,000 prisoners in the UK, only 10,000 of them are given daily work. Gaolhouse Denim have capitalised on this untapped labour resource in a positive way which helps the UK government, which is aiming to get all prisoners to engage in a full working week.

The jeans themselves are pretty special actually. They’re made from old fashioned raw denim, cut in the modern hipster-friendly style. Raw denim takes on a unique shape that matches that of the wearer, so they fit perfectly. So they’re fashionable jeans made from the kind of hard wearing denim that never fails you.

The first batch of jeans was made in prison but the start up is now moving in another direction. They are looking to provide meaningful and rehabilitating work to recently released prisoners, “helping with the often very difficult reintegration into society.” They’ve come up with an ethical business model, pledging that until they are able to provide paid work for ex-offenders, they will give £2 from every sale to the charity Fine Cell Work 2.

Made in Prison Gaolhouse

3. Prison Blues Jeans

Prison Blues Jeans are like the American version of Gaolhouse Denim. Their jeans are manufactured by inmates at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, Oregon. They work with Oregon Corrections Enterprises, which provides work and training to over 1300 of Oregon’s Inmates. About 96% of the prison population will be released back into their communities, so EOC aim to inspire them with a “work ethic and basic skills” to help them on the outside.

They’ve been going for longer than the comparatively small Gaolhouse Jeans, but their products are less fashionable, aiming at a wider target market. While Gaolhouse Jeans are highly fashionable, Prison Blues Jeans rely more on the ethical aspect of their manufacturing process to sell their jeans.

Made in Prison Blues Jeans

So whether you’re looking for breeches or brownies, there’s a way to help those with convictions to give something back to society and get back on the straight and narrow. Is this kind of marketing cynical or is it a positive way to help people back on their feet while acquiring a cool product in the process? Ethics are a major part of marketing in a socially conscious consumer market, and I think these three businesses have come up with a great way to capitalise on this while making use of valuable and underused human resources.

About the author

Tom Rowsell is a professional journalist and film maker. Currently employed by the UK translation and interpreting services agency, EmpowerLingua, Tom writes about everything from fashion and marketing to politics and travel.

Wat is jouw mening? Zou je kleding willen dragen die gemaakt is door criminelen?

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