Things are not what they seem. Quite. You may think this is the
regular Backbite to which your fingers itch to turn each week. It seems
like the same slick, incisive-yet-entertaining content, same shiny brand
values and the same glossy packaging complete with familiar, come-on-in
If you don’t look too carefully, you’ll be sucked in, maybe
shortchanged, maybe pleasantly surprised. But it’s not really what you
thought you were getting. Because this column is a lookalike, a
pass-off, a fake.
Biteback is, of course, modelled on the best bits of Backbite and hopes
to tap into the positive vibes which me and my fellow Backbiter, Ms
Marshall, have worked hard to establish over the past few months. All
the hustling, lunching, self-promoting Marshall and Beale have
selflessly undergone in the name of brand-building for this once-humble
slot have been hijacked.
But for all such beleaguered brand leaders, the High Court offered some
hope last week. The McVitie’s Penguin versus Asda Puffin case is being
touted as a major victory for brand owners. The High Court ruled that
Puffin is ’deceptively similar’ to Penguin and ordered Asda to pay costs
The implications are widespread, and not just in the fmcg/retailer
I can think of many media brands where if you throw open the covers or
remove the logo, choosing between the content is virtually impossible.
And as media continues to fragment, coming up with an innovative product
will become increasingly difficult, as the BBC proved last week when it
confirmed that one of its joint-venture channels with Flextech will seem
rather like its own UK Gold brand.
The trick for the brand leader must be to reinvent continually - much
easier, of course, for the fluid media than the generally static fmcg
brands who meddle at their peril. Perhaps last week’s ruling will
galvanise all those brands that can to stay one step ahead.