–Susan Perera, Attorney

It was time for a new kitchen faucet at our house and after opening the box of our new Delta faucet we noticed this image on the side panel of the box.

The registration for this kitchen faucet product configuration mark (shown farthest to the right on the box) can be seen here.

As we have discussed previously, product configuration marks protect the distinctive design or shape of a product.

Product configuration marks generally require a showing that the configuration has acquired distinctiveness (serves as an identifier of source ) in order to be registered. In this case, that means the configuration above identifies Delta Faucet Company

Does it? Well, how about an exciting round of “Spot that Spout” to find out?

Below are a few different faucets available at your local home improvement store.  So who makes these faucets, are they all Delta? And if not are they distinguishable from Delta’s product configuration registration?

Answers after the jump…

Continue Reading Spot that Spout

—David Mitchel, Norton Mitchel Marketing

Budweiser, the self-proclaimed King of Beers, announced a marketing initiative this week to broaden its appeal to drinkers ages 21-30. Although Budweiser is an immensely popular global brand, it has had difficulty in the United States market in recent years. In the US, Budweiser sales volume was down 9% in 2009 and it appears the brand is on track to lose about 9% again in 2010. As a means of comparison, the whole US beer market fell 2% in 2009. In 1988, Budweiser had a 26% share of the beer market in the USA. Today, Budweiser only has a 9.3% share. In particular, Budweiser is most concerned about its lack of popularity amongst young drinkers. According to its own data, 4 out of 10 drinkers in their mid 20s have never tried the beer. These factors make now a quality time for the Budweiser brand to revitalize. However, based on the plans that Budweiser has divulged, I do not believe that they will be effective in changing the perception of the brand amongst young adults and generating greater market share.

Budweiser’s marketing initiative will begin in earnest with “Budweiser National Happy Hour” on Wednesday, September 29. Free samples of Budweiser will be available at various bars across the nation. The logistics of this plan already have been criticized in the mass media. While criticism of logistics is certainly valid from a brand management perspective, it does not take into consideration the larger strategic flaws in the plan. Free sampling can be a way to build brand awareness and develop positive brand beliefs. However, marketing is a mix of elements and all elements of the mix must work harmoniously together for success. In the case of Budweiser, this will not occur.

Besides the National Happy Hour event, Budweiser plans to promote the brand through their Facebook presence and video advertising, much of it on television. They are taking a multi channel promotional approach, which is positive. Budweiser will use its Facebook page to give free beers to those celebrating a birthday (22nd birthday and up) and display photo albums of those celebrating with Budweiser on their birthday. A quick visit to Budweiser’s Facebook page shows that Budweiser isn’t likely to impress most of the young audience. Their primary profile picture displays 2 Budweiser bottles on ice and the slogan of this campaign “Grab Some Buds”. The imagery is nothing new, which is disappointing because a key component to revitalizing a brand is repositioning. Using imagery that places Budweiser in a new context would be a welcome change. Also, the slogan for this campaign is “Grab Some Buds”. There is nothing memorable about this slogan. It is about as boring as it gets. Meanwhile, the first video ad is available both on Budweiser’s home page and the Facebook page. This video ad is likely to be perceived as rather stale by young adults because it uses undifferentiated imagery. It will not break through the clutter, which is the goal of all advertising.Continue Reading Budweiser: Not The King of Generation Y

       

In December, PepsiCo introduced the United States market to a new, special limited time offer. From December 28-February 22, the Pepsi brand would offer Pepsi Throwback. This version of Pepsi contains real sugar, just as Pepsi products did until the early 1980s. This is the second market trial of Pepsi Throwback, as it had originally been on store shelves in the spring of 2009. As we near the end of this limited time offer, I urge Pepsi to make Pepsi Throwback the standard Pepsi product permanently. Offering a cola product with real sugar and 1970s era nostalgia packaging will benefit the brand. It is a healthier product that will foster goodwill in the marketplace, it evokes positive memories and it gives the brand an advantage over Coca-Cola.

The best decision that Pepsi can make from a product standpoint is to remove high fructose corn syrup. Until the last 2-3 decades, the vast majority of colas were sweetened with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Since high fructose corn syrup was introduced, the nutrition value (or lack thereof) has been intensely debated, particularly in recent years. Many attribute high fructose corn syrup to causing higher rates of obesity. It is not smart strategy to use an ingredient that can be perceived as harmful to health. By removing high fructose corn syrup, Pepsi gains a competitive advantage over chief category rival Coca-Cola, assuming that Coca-Cola doesn’t revert back to sugar as well. Even if Coca-Cola does make the move, Pepsi would retain first mover advantage, and would still be more positively perceived. This move of returning a product to the original formula evokes nostalgia feelings. When a brand can be associated with positive, nostalgic feelings, it is usually a beneficial occurrence.Continue Reading Pepsi Throwback: The Renewed Choice of a Generation

— Karen Brennan, Attorney

While browsing through a toy store recently, I noticed what appears to be a trend in branding this holiday season – reintroducing classic or “nostalgic” toys.   It is very hard for me to accept that the toys I played with as a child could be considered “nostalgic,” but upon