Monday, 28 May 2012

Cool branding

In the local branch of Tesco the other day, I was taken with the idea of doing a comparative review of energy drinks, precisely the sort of thing for which I maintain another blog ... especially as I can't write about running on it at present, and writing about running injuries isn't so much fun. Perhaps partly because injury prevents me from running, my energy levels have been low and energy drinks (and foods) have been on my mind. There are limits to how many cappuccinos one can take in a day, although anyone who knew my mother and her daily intake of coffee would wonder how I can have failed so massively to inherit the smallest part of her capacity for the stuff.

Of course, I could just go for the market leader, but (a) I have a predisposition, in all matters, towards the underdog and (b) the leader of this particular market, by dint of certain opposition proceedings directed against a client's Community trade mark application, has forever lost me as a customer (and, pleased though I was at Mark Webber's victory yesterday (that underdog thing again, perhaps), it was very much about his achievement and not that of the team for which he drives). So I picked up four of those oddly small cans in which energy drinks are presented, which perhaps merely serves to emphasise their potency, and have been trying them out and writing tasting notes as I go. In due course I will publish the results on the appropriate blog. But what I want to comment on here is the branding of one of the products.

Now clearly I am not an average consumer, because I don't pick up the look-alike own-label products mistaking them for the branded ones (generally I pick them up because I don't want to pay the prices commanded by the branded ones). Only when I took the third of my sample energy drinks from the fridge did I notice something strange about it. The name on the can was "P***y", and I don't think (before it was bowdlerised for Tesco) it was intended to allude to the IPKat. According to the maker's website, (Bowdler has no role to play on the Internet), "The drink's pure - it's your mind that's the problem". Indeed it does seem to be made exclusively from natural ingredients, and I can vouch for the fact that it tastes good - none of the medicinal flavour of the established energy drinks, though without the kick of the competition from Zen Republic (where do they get these names from?) which contains chili and ginger.

Of course, trade marks cannot be registered if they are contrary to public policy and morality, and the caselaw on this provision makes entertaining reading. How can anyone have ever thought some of those trade marks would ever attract customers? But Pussy Drinks (Holdings) Limited have a CTM registration for Pussy Natural Energy (here) and an honourable mention in Marketing Week, in an article on how cool brands can keep their coolness - FCUK being a classic instance of how not to do this. For my part, I love the product but I love better the fact that the competition - the second healthiest energy drink in the UK, its website proclaims, in a "we try harder" moment - contains no taurine, the very sound of which makes me want to avoid it, and is approved by the Vegetarian Society, making me wonder what's in Pussy that might prevent a similar endorsement, or did they just never ask? The branding, to me, is neither here nor there (so long as there are no off-colour bovines involved), and once again I find myself wondering about the way trade marks are used in the modern world. I guess it's all about fashion, and I am put in mind of a quote from Oscar Wilde which I read the other day: "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

No comments:


blogger templates | Make Money Online