BITEBACK

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 pic. 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 and damages. The implications are widespread, and not just in the fmcg/retailer sector. 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.

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

pic.

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

and damages.

The implications are widespread, and not just in the fmcg/retailer

sector.

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.