The first full session of MARQUES 2007 opened this morning with a plea by chairman Jane Collins (Syngenta, right), whose opening speech called for more participation from MARQUES members in its large and growing portfolio of activities. Then, following a formal welcome from the host city, the programme began in earnest in its aim to test out the way trade marks and brands work in the youth market. First to speak was Shane Smyth (FR Kelly, Dublin), who amused and outraged various segments of the audience by reproducing the results of an informal survey of nearly 200 youngsters from four European countries as to what they thought of brands and trade marks. The IPKat thought the most interesting finding was the two lists - brands, concepts and products that the young respondents would be willing to endorse and those which they would not. The first list featured Converse, Coke, Pepsi, fair trade, Dior, Nintendo, Sony, iPod and Pringles; the latter contained Ugg, animal fur, cigarettes, casinos, McDonalds, football clubs, Rimmel London and Playboy (why Rimmel London?, asks Merpel).
Next up was Paul Iddon (left), from Anglo-Danish market-savvy consultancy Kernel. Apart from showing us some pictures of the incredibly beautiful girlfriends and exes of his son, Paul - who reminded the IPKat of a rather funnier version of David Brent - explained the seven different narrative structures through which a brand could be made to appeal to young consumers, sometimes irresistably.
Paul's talk was complemented by Professor Judith Zaichkowky (Simon Fraser University, Canada), who gave a child's-eye view of the agonies of early teens and how branding has been so effectly deployed either in playing on teenage fears or by eliminating them. One key point here: empirical research indicates that it's not advertising that makes children materialistic - it's parents. Final speaker in this session was Kilpatrick Stockton megastar Jerre Swann (right), who argued passionately for a greater understanding of cognitive psychology both in terms of the light it sheds on consumer behaviour and as a lethal litigation weapon. The IPKat could see the attraction of the subject and thinks it has lots to commend it when addressing unquantifiables such as the extent to which a brand's reputation is damaged, but he questioned whether it had any role in European trade mark litigation today.
Following a welcome coffee to distract several hundred participants from the thought that it was they who had turned their kids into dedicated followers of fashion, Tobias Cohen Jehoram (De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek) demonstrated the phenomenon of inconsistent application within Europe of the same standards when it comes to regulating advertising aimed at youngsters that is based on sex, violence and antisocial behaviour (says Merpel, but aren't they the three things teenagers spend most of their time thinking about when they're not watching the ads?). Mark Hodgkin (Cadbury Schweppes) then looked at the increasing regulation of the way foods rich in fats, sugar and other currently dangerous ingredients can be promote. This talk was rich in IP practice, dealing with the downgrading of celebrity and even proprietary fictional character endorsement of confectionery and breakfast cereals. One case in point was Bertie Bassett - originally a popular marketing device for promoting Barrett's Liquorice All-Sorts but now reduced to a heritage figure and part-time quality assurance.
Left: how Bertie Bassett used to persuade small children to buy Bassett's Liquorice All-Sorts. Right: what Bertie is likely to look like by the time the government and all the consumer lobby-groups have finished with him.
Final pre-lunch speaker was Anouk von Meyenfeldt (Tommy Hilfiger), who explained how anxious her company is to comply with fair and responsible advertising practices, especially on the now ubiquitous internet. Merpel says, I can see through this subtle ploy: by standing aside and not playing hard on the vulnerability of the young consumer to the pressures of in-yer-face advertising, Tommy Hilfiger is actually establishing a niche for itself that is based on the concept of cool.
The IPKat's fellow blogger Lorenzo Litta, of leading Italian IP weblog Catch Us If You Can, hearing that he is in Porto, writes as follows:
"As I am member of the International Wine Law Association and having lived there for a few months, there is a particular and wonderful relationship between me and the city and I am proud to give you some recommendation, hoping that would be useful for enjoying your trip.
Right: when a member of the International Wine Law Association phones home to say he'll be working late at the office on a new case that has just come in, it means just one thing ...
All the area of the Douro (the river of Porto) is rich of very tasty wines. In particular I would suggest the “Barca Velha”, pride of the country. Other good wines are from Alentejo in the south of Portugal.
Highly Recommended: Barca Velha, Periguita, Charramba, Monte velho (both white and red), Cockspit Porto
Restaurante Oporto, it is in the old part of Foz (Foz Velha), a good place to taste the “vinho tinto”;
Restaurante Rhino, in Foz
Restaurante Foz Velha, let's try Bacalhao there!
Restaurante Cafeína, in Foz, it is a very popular and fashionable restaurant;
Restaurante Terra, always in Foz, it is very similar to Cafeína;
Restaurante Mascara, in Foz, Avenida Brasil, here you should try the Fondue!
Restaurantes na Ribeira, in the old part of the city, Ribeira, you will find a lot of small and typical restaurants, where you should try the fish, in particular I suggest you the “robalo”, and all the characteristic Portuguese foods, like bacalhau, and you can try a good Porto wine enjoying the Eiffel bridge and the Porto wine's bodegas.
Restaurante Praia da Luz, over the beach in Foz, it is a very relaxing place for lunch or for a coffee or a drink in late afternoon.
Tourist attractions and museums
Porto does not offer as many tourist attractions as other European cities, but you should live the atmosphere of the city drinking a good wine. The “Palacio da Bolsa” is a good place to visit, to understand how the sale of shares was conducted in the past. And do not miss the Sandeman Museum of Porto Wine".