For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

How Many Doritos Sub-Brands Can You Name?


Trade marks have often been viewed more ambivalently than the other traditional categories of IP rights. This Kat's recollection is that, prior to the enactment of the earliest trade mark legislation in England in 1875, there was spirited Parliamentary debate about the desirability of granting exclusive rights to commercial signs. More recently, in connection with the enactment of the Lanham Act in 1946, the U.S. Department of Justice was critical of expanding and strengthening trade mark rights, seeing marks as often serving no more than a cynical means to create the illusion of product diferentiation among gullible consumers. As for Naomi Klein and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, here, the thrust of her polemic is well captured in the book's title.

Whatever one's ultimate view about these challenges to the desirability of trade mark protection, one has to marvel about the way that certain marks have enabled their owner successfully to create multiple products. A case in point is the recent item that appeared in the 3 October issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Under the caption, "The brand that launched a thousand ships", the garishly-laid out one page of text and colour pays homage to the creator of that gastronomic icon, Doritos chips.

And so we are told: "When Arch West, the creator of Doritos, died on September 20 at age 97, he left behind a shape-shifting snack behemoth. In the 47 years ago since Frito-Lay introduced Doritos, they have become of the world's most popular snacks, with global sales of nearly $5 billion last year and the current U.S. roster of 22 flavours, plus dozen more in foreign markets and many that have come and gone." The article goes on to mention several of these 22 tantalising flavours: Cool Ranch, Spicy Sweet, Mr. Dragon's Fire Chips, Nacho Cheese, Collisions Pizza Cravers & Ranch, Toasted Corn, Gold Peking Duck and Taco Flavour. Now all we need is a Doritos Catnip product to satisfy the palate of the most trade mark-sensitive feline.

A trade mark purist might note that these various Dorito-branded varieties are actually a combination of the basic product name with a name which is either descriptive ("Toasted Corn") or more distinctive ("Cool Ranch"). The common denominator for all Dorito chips is the shape and texture of the chips; each sub-mark then identifies a different flavour. Ultimately, though, what Frito-Lay has done is to leverage the goodwill in the Doritos brand across a large number of distinctly identified product offerings.

Tis Kat wonders how Doritos' "success" in creating such multiple product offerings measures up against other multiple sub-products under a single unifying mark. Growing up, Heinz used to boast that it offered "57 Varieties" but, try as he might, this Kat never could identify more than a handful of varieties under the Heinz name. And so to my question: are any readers familiar with a consumer brand that has spawned more distinct products under a single name than has Doritos? The winner, if anyone can top the number of Doritos-based marks, gets a free bag of Doritos snacks from this Kat (he or she gets to name the variety).

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ben & Jerry's ice cream - surely they've had more than 22 flavors
OPI nail polish - famous for the names of its colors, like Cajun Shrimp, Cabana Banana and Calling All Goddesses. They have hundreds of colors

Anonymous said...

Pringles has countless different flavors and variations thereof. It is all put together nicely in a graphic overview which I can send for research purpose :)

Martin said...

Forget foods; look at paints! Take a peek at the Dulux website, for example, and you will find hundreds of sub-brands. Out of curiosity, I searched for "cat" colours and came up with "DeliCATe Cobweb" and "SophistiCATed Sage" both of which are registered as tm's in the UK. Great names, but shame about the shaggy dog.

Anonymous said...

Unless I have misunderstood the question, I think this Cat has forgotten the fashion houses, with products ranging from perfumes to luggage, embracing clothing, shoes, make up, sun glasses and countless accessories along the way. Or the conglomerate offerings under brands such as Virgin or Easy.

Jeremy said...

Has no-one had the (mis)fortune to visit IKEA? Can there be any business in the world that has more -- and more unpronounceable and non-memorable -- sub-brands?

Subscribe to the IPKat's posts by email here

Just pop your email address into the box and click 'Subscribe':