In a major oversight by PepsiCo, the company let the trademark on its “The Choice of a New Generation” slogan lapse, leaving room for a small oatmeal brand to scoop it up.
Better Oats, owned by mum (previously known as Malt o Meal), has launched a new campaign, which uses the iconic slogan as their own.
“Our Better Oats brand is bringing new, younger and more affluent consumers to the instant oatmeal category, and that trend, coupled with our non-traditional campaign, is why ‘Choice of a New Generation’ tagline is such a good fit,” said Linda Fisher, the brand’s corporate communications manager, in a statement.
“Choice of a New Generation” was Pepsi’s slogan from 1984 to 1991. The brainchild of ad agency BBDO, Pepsi’s commercials during that era spared no expense, featuring mega-stars like Michael Jackson and Tina Turner.
Better Oats, which was launched in 2010, has taken a drastically different approach. The company does not have an ad agency and their newest commercial, which features amateur filmmaker Josh Anderson singing about oatmeal, was crowdsourced via Poptent.
The whole thing cost the brand $150,000 (a minuscule budget in the ad world), according to AdAge, which allows the product to be sold at a low price, between $1-$2.
mum Brands first applied to register the slogan’s trademark in 2009. They were able to do so since Pepsi had let their trademark expire in 2006. It seems to be no coincidence that the CEO of mum (since 2007) is a former PepsiCo/Frito Lay marketer, Chris Neugent.
We can’t think of another example of one brand deliberately recycling another’s tagline. It is a smart move in terms of garnering publicity for the small brand.
But AdAge reports that it may come with some legal issues. Were Pepsi to pursue it, they could have a legal claim under “residual goodwill.” The idea is that even if Pepsi no longer owns the trademark, consumers still affiliate it with the soda, so Pepsi could cite that as a reason that they should keep the slogan.
At this point, it seems unlikely that Pepsi will pursue this course of action, however, since the trademark was filed by Better Oats three years ago. Additionally, Pepsi’s competitor product, Quaker Oats, has a massive 42% market share, compared with Better Oats 1% share.
Still, letting an iconic slogan slip out of trademark is a huge gaffe on the part of Pepsi and is one of a series missteps that have plagued the snack food giant in the past months. Other blunders include, but are not limited to:
- CEO Indra Nooyi telling Wall Street analysts that PepsiCo would fire 100 of its 150 agencies, before telling any of the agencies themselves.
- Giving Massimo d’Amore a $2 million retirement bonus at the same time as firing 8,700 employees
- Paying $3.1 Million for discriminating against minorities with arrest records
- Cutting $1.4 billion in 401k benefits
In this case, the brand should feel lucky that something as wholesome as an oatmeal brand picked it up instead of a more controversial brand.
Here is Better Oats new commercial:
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