Marks and Spencer declared a battle with Aldi last Friday!
They’ve decided to sue the supermarket chain for replicating their ‘Colin the caterpillar’ cake. M&S have ‘Colin’, Aldi have ‘Cuthbert’.
I am educated in intellectual property law, so I do know a thing or two about this little farce, and let me tell you, it IS a farce!
Marks and Spencer claim their customers associate their brand with quality, and they don’t believe Aldi are replicating the same quality with our poor old pal ‘Cuthbert’.
Therefore, lots of stuffy old men in suits have sat in a room and decided the best way to handle this is by running to a court room.
Where does the law stand on this? Ok, they probably have a case, and I do believe Marks and Spencer will win. All the big supermarkets have their own versions of ‘Colin’.
Tesco have ‘Calli’, Waitrose have Cecil’ and Asda have ‘Clyde’. All appalling ‘C’ names if you ask me, but it is what it is!
Anyhow! They all have chocolate insect cakes and Marks and Spencer are getting rather precious over it!
Here’s the problem! If you compare them all, they have fundamental differences - except for Aldi’s. The Aldi cake is almost identical to Marks and Spencer, and that’s where Aldi’s defence will fall down.
In law land, in my belief, it is called ‘passing off’. Therefore, M&S will win.
The case will become as petty as ‘how far apart are Colin and Cuthbert’s eyes, how many sweets are on the top’ and ultimately the only saving grace I see is that one has a tongue sticking out and the other doesn’t. It is PATHETIC. A little bit like Marks and Spencer’s social media use over this diabolical jumped up Swiss roll!
Aldi WON the customers and they have well and truly WON the social media battle.
For the entire duration of Friday and Monday the chain have been finding the humour in this situation and tweeted their way to customers hearts. (Side note. They took the weekend off Twitter out of respect for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral... I should know, I was religiously checking for updates. Awkward)
So what did they tweet?
‘Marks and Snitches more like. #FreeCuthbert’
‘@JudgeRinder How is your diary looking? Asking for a friend... #FreeCuthbert’
‘This is not just a court case... this is a... #FreeCuthbert’ Followed by multiple hilarious pictures of ‘court room drawings’ featuring Cuthbert in the dock, Cuthbert reading ‘Intellectual property law for dummies’ and Monopoly ‘get out of jail free’ cards, asking if they actually work!
I watched as Aldi gained over 70,000 new Twitter followers in three days!!! THEN. If we weren’t entertained enough, Aldi played a master stroke of brand management genius....
On Tuesday at 9-34am they tweeted the following: ‘Hey @marksandspencer can Colin and Cuthbert be besties? We’re bringing back a limited edition Cuthbert and want to donate profits to cancer charities including your partners @macmillancancer & ours @teenagecancer. Let’s raise money for charity, not lawyers #caterpillarsforcancer.’
And for me... Aldi dropped the mic and left the building. GENIUS. How on earth could Marks and Spencer say ‘no’ to that?! They can’t! Surely, the brand would be destroyed.
All this over a Swiss roll with chocolate on top?!
Then, Marks and Spencer did the unthinkable. ‘Hey @AldiUK we love a charity idea (Colin's been a BIG fundraiser for years). We just want you to use your own character. How about #kevinthecarrotcake ? That idea's on us... and we promise we won't do Keith.'
Marks and Spencer, you will win your courtroom battle, but you’ve firmly lost the war! For me, the M&S reply screams ‘I am a spoilt rich brat with narcissistic tendencies who has thrown my toys out of my pram and I’m not playing with you anymore.’
I can absolutely assure M&S that their brand value and reputation will cost them far more whatever a judge will award them in court. People will flock to Aldi.
They have now positioned themselves as a caring, considerate and fashionable retailer.
M&S have confirmed they are stuck in their old fashioned ways, they’re absolutely tone deaf and are they really caring about their customers in all of this? It doesn’t seem so!
We are British for crying out loud, taking the mickey out of ourselves is our way of life! M&S couldn’t take themselves more seriously if they tried.
On that note... I’m off to buy a Cuthbert in support of the Aldi legal bill, and I’ll probably buy a kayak whilst I’m there too! #FreeCuthbert