It is easy for some to get all tied up in knots at the USPTO when facing challenging grounds for refusal against federal registration of a claimed non-traditional trademark. Not Bottega Veneta.

Last week the Swiss-owned fashion house and luxury brand was able to persuade the USPTO to approve for publication the three dimensional knot

by David Mitchel, Vice President of Marketing at Norton Mitchel Marketing

Branding is an intricate and complicated process. Every aspect of the marketing mix must be handled with care. Brand managers watch their brands in the same manner that most parents care for a newborn child. However, there is an element of marketing communications that brand management teams are unable to directly control: pop culture references about the brands in what appear to be non product placement contexts. These pop culture references can come from both old and new media. They are often found in music, and frequently occur in the hip hop genre. In recent years, brands have been prominent parts of popular YouTube videos. As social media evolves, it has the potential to present new threats for brands. With regard to pop culture references, it is a challenging minefield that brands must negotiate carefully in order to prevent them from detracting from marketing strategy.

In 2003, hip hop artist 50 Cent became a huge sensation with the album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”. One of the many hit songs from that album was “In Da Club”. Near the beginning of the song, the lyric “we gon’ sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday” appears. This is not the only time that the Bacardi brand has been mentioned in song lyrics, but it is certainly one of the more prominent references. In its advertising over the years, Bacardi has crafted an image of being a fun brand, as their ads often feature a party scene. This may have inspired 50 Cent to write the lyric in the way that he did. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bacardi featured a “Bacardi By Night” print advertising campaign. These ads clearly targeted individuals with serious jobs and emphasized that Bacardi was a part of their work-life balance.   Additionally, Bacardi has also used their long standing and rich history as a selling proposition in advertising. Bacardi’s association with fun and partying may have attracted the hip hop element, as extravagant partying is a common theme of hip hop imagery. However, this association is tenuous at best and does not appear to be widely perceived. Bacardi has strongly withstood unsolicited pop culture references and its well refined marketing communication messages have helped to ensure that they remain the world’s largest spirits brand.


Continue Reading Branding in Pop Culture: How Brands Avoid Negative Associations

La Mer The Body Creme

Millimeters apart on the label, miles apart in meaning. Yes, a few extra millimeters of blank space can make all the difference in the world for some brands. Especially when the brand name consists of two words, and the typical visual treatment has all letters appearing in identical size and style (all caps), and when compressing the words yields an unintended, unfavorable meaning. Take the above luxury skin care brand owned by La Mer Technology, one of the Estee Lauder companies.

Honestly, I’m not sure how, but a few weeks ago, I came across Felicia Sullivan’s blog post "Covet Fall’s Top 10 Beauty Indulgences" on The Huffington Post, featuring the above product image. I took a double take at the brand name, laughed out loud (initially thinking it was a spoof product), and after realizing it wasn’t, I knew I couldn’t resist writing about it.

Part of my due diligence involved questioning my wife about it, she being far more experienced in these kinds of matters. I was "kindly" informed that "anybody who is anyone" knows La Mer is a coveted luxury skin care brand. Since being educated, I now introduce my wife as anyone, and myself as no one. Ironically, you might say I fit at least one slang definition of "lamer" — "a person who is out of touch with modern fads or trends, esp. one who is unsophisticated." There are other meanings too, that I suspect don’t implicate the target market for $130 an ounce skin care products, or value-priced 16.5 ounce containers at $1,390. Just so you know, I also have come to know that anyone who knows anything about the French language knows La Mer means "the sea".


Continue Reading Essential Spacing: Night & Day Commercial Impressions