I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, so excuse me if it’s not breaking news. Am I the only geek who noticed that Home Depot’s slogan, “You can do it. We can help,” was long ago a slogan for Diet Pepsi? And am I the only one who can still sing the Diet Pepsi jingle that used the slogan? I can’t find musical evidence online, but here’s a UK quiz showing how weak the slogan is there.
Meet Kraft’s new Bagel-fuls:
Completely lame name, and from a trademark perspective it’s always risky to have a plural trademark that you’re compelled to use in the singular. But that’s not important now. Rather, let me thrill you with Kraft’s own description of why the hell anyone would want cream-cheese stuffed bagel tubes: “Bagel-fuls are one example of how we are reframing our categories. Part of this strategy includes making our products more relevant by understanding key consumer trends, like quick meals – and their impact on our business.” Color me ignorant, I just thought food was there to sustain and nourish you. Don’t get me wrong; I confess to buying some packaged and portion-controlled foods for convenience’s sake along with the rest of America. But somehow a food item that either appears to have had its genesis in a focus group or an inside joke or dare is just not that appealing to me. And the visual of a woman delightedly consuming this decidedly non-bagel shaped product while another woman looks on with envy? Yeah, I figured that one out too. Suffice to say, when my husband and I saw this commercial our visceral response was “Ewwwwwwwwww.” Your mileage may vary.
I consider it my duty to give credit where it’s due, and to point out accurate analyses of intellectual property rights by non-IP geeks. Corby Kummer does an excellent job in this article about bread wars; or, what happens when collaborators in a recipe split up. Kummer makes clear that neither a recipe nor a method of making bread is subject to protection, and that apart from a catchy and non-descriptive name, trademark protection isn’t available either. Indeed, Kummer quotes baker Jim Lahey as saying “rather than squabble, bakers should do their best to help each other increase sales and steal back sales from the industrial producers that caught on to the idea that “artisanal” bread sells.” Hmm . . . should the fashion industry take a slice from the bakers’ loaf instead of clamoring for protection of clothing designs?
“Change isn’t just a slogan.” That’s Barack Obama today in New Mexico, commenting on John McCain’s recent habit of swiping Obama slogans. It’s an interesting push-pull on the descriptiveness issue: Obama, by providing concrete evidence of the changes he hopes to make as President (e.g., on health care), uses “change” descriptively and comparatively. McCain’s use, on the other hand, is suggestive to the extent he’s not offering proposals for change – yet descriptive if we’re looking at his flipflopping on issues.
Now for a gratuitous Obama photo, taken Monday in Pueblo, Colorado:
I figure that Obama’s repeated mention of McCain’s slogan theft is a faint but legitimate excuse for introducing more political discussion on a trademark blog. Plus, in the immortal words of Queen Elizabeth in BlackAdder, “who’s Queen?”
UPDATE: Adding this video about the change issue called “Senator Obama, closed captioned for the badass-impaired.” 23/6 is a great resource for campaign snark.
Well, I’m not the only one to see that P&G’s new ad campaign for Secret has a lot going for it: “Because you’re hot” is one of the best double entendre taglines I’ve seen in advertising lately. And “Flawless” is an outstanding mark, though I would caution the admakers against weakening it by using it in copy (e.g., “5 new facets of flawless performance.”) And although the Secret website is clearly focusing on the younger market, I think it may be the older ones among us who get the bigger chuckle out of “because you’re hot.” I know I do . . .
I say this over and over again: Certain terms and ideas are not capable of exclusive appropriation by one party as trademarks. Keith Olbermann gives a stellar real-life example of my oft-repeated maxim in the context of what he sees as one party – here, the Republican party – attempting to appropriate for itself as its brand the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Kudos to Keith for his grasp of what a trademark is, and more importantly, for his insightful message.