We’ve had a little rash of graphic design comedic parody lately.
The first example is the notoriously funny The South Butt and its tagline "Never Stop Relaxing". Of course, this is an obvious knockoff of leading outdoor clothier The North Face and its "Never Stop Exploring" call to action. From a legal perspective, of course, this is a bit problematic – especially when The South Butt began selling apparel. (Until then, a fun mockery might have earned them a nasty letter, but not a full-on lawsuit).
However, whether The North Face likes it or not, it is a victim of its own popularity. While the company was still a niche brand, focusing on only seasoned outdoorspeople, no one cared. But once it crossed over into high fashion (and became the must-have in every 13-year-old girl’s wardrobe), a backlash was inevitable. The same thing happened to Abercrombie and Fitch (remember the raucously funny MadTV sketches)?
From a marketing perspective, The North Face should be content to let this go. Yes, it’s irritating, and yes, legally it’s an affront. But making too big of a deal of the situation likely will backfire.
Here’s another example that should not be taken lying down.
If I were the Humane Society of the United States, I would be preparing my lawsuit at this moment. Say what you will about the politics of the HSUS (suffice to say, it is not just about finding homes for adorable puppies), HumaneWatch is making a visual affront to the organization and its ability to distinguish itself in the market. In short, the competing organization is using HSUS intellectual property (the logo) to bolster its own low standing, confusing people into paying attention.
Whatever side of the political/moral/business issue you might be on, this has to be stopped.