From March to September 2016 the team is joined by Guest Kats Emma Perot and Mike Mireles.

From April to September 2016 the team is also joined by InternKats Eleanor Wilson and Nick Smallwood.

Friday, 8 May 2015

A Kat visits #INTA15: the Aftermath, and a trip to Ralph's

Retirement home
for old business cards
As regular readers will know, the 137th Meeting of the International Trademark Association ended with a flourish on Wednesday night, as reported here.  But in a very real sense as well as a more ephemeral one, it continues.  Relationships made during the Meeting will flourish, persist or wither in accordance with their importance to the parties and the effort required to sustain them. Ideas sown in the fertile soil of intellectual contact with one's peers become court submissions, licence clauses, strategic market moves or journal articles.  Long after business cards have been consigned to the recipient's recycling bin, emails may be exchanged, instructions given, invitations extended or jobs offered. All of this has something of the Meeting's metaphorical DNA about it.

This Kat routinely takes a day off after the annual INTA Meeting.  This rare occurrence enables him to re-engage with his own thoughts and emotions after spending several days imbibing the ideas, concerns, deeply-felt feelings of others.  This act of re-acquaintance is really the very opposite of meditation: it's a conscious detachment from deliberate, focused, concentrated thought and a drive towards reuniting himself with his instincts and his intuitions.

The main part of this exercise involves taking a leisurely walk through the streets of the host city and letting himself just look around and allow competing sights to appear to him.  This walk takes in shops, parks, open spaces as well as the easily-navigable grid of numbered avenues and lettered streets with which most American INTA venues have been blessed.

A visit to Ralph's supermarket proved to be the trigger for a number of thoughts and observations that brought out the IP blogger from behind the facade of the wandering foreign visitor. The first lRalph's episode relates to labelling of yoghurt.  A small child in the 1950s, this Kat recalls a time when yoghurt was a single undifferentiated commodity: it was only plain since 1963 had yet to dawn and the first fruit yoghurt -- the revolutionary SKI brand with its Dalek-shaped frustoconical pot, cheery colouration and scandalously deceptive false carton bottom -- had yet to invade the market.  Competition, such as it was, existed only between dairies most of which had brand names that doubled as corporate names such as United Dairies and Express Dairies.  Looking through the shelves at Ralph's, this Kat realised how far things had changed.  Each brand, of which there were many, offered choice within its own range of products. Apart from many varieties of flavour, there were slimmers' brands, body-builders' brands, indeed products to match every taste, health requirement, aspiration and [Merpel imagines] perversion. The only thing he couldn't find was what he was looking for: a plain yoghurt.  After a while he discovered what he already knew: you can't sell a product in the US by labeling it as "plain".  The yoghurt of his desire was however both "original" and "authentic".

Another example of American attention to hidden virtue appeared to this Kat when he was looking for an apple that was small enough to eat. No joke, there are some very large eating apples on offer these days, and there was no obvious person with whom to make a joint purchase.  In England, if a shopkeeper had small apples on sale, he probably wouldn't draw too much attention to the fact. In Ralph's, the fruit of lesser magnitude is proudly and positively labelled "lunchbox sized".

At the check-out, this Kat had a little chat with the man behind him in the line.  Like the Kat, he had gone to Ralph's to buy something for lunch. Unlike the Kat, he was of the city's street-sleepers. His lunch consisted of a single item: a quart pot of Reese's ice cream.  It is difficult to describe the speed or the intensity with which the various bits of the Kat's brain argued with each other in search of the right outcome: should he (i) give the man some cash to buy a more nutritious and balanced meal, with the risk that he might spend it on another tub of the self-same substance, (ii) make a patronising guess at what the man might buy and get it for him, (iii) offer some friendly advice on nutrition or (iv) respect his right to choose for himself and avoid the risk of embarrassing him, and therefore say and do nothing.  In the end the Kat went for option (iv), but with the slight misgiving that this is exactly what he would have done, had he never had an internal debate at all.

Back to Reese's. a couple of things occurred to this Kat. First, again going back to the Dark Ages after World War Two, there were confectionery brands and there were ice cream brands.  The concept of brand extension from one product category to another, which we now take for granted, was effectively unknown.  Hersheys, Mars, Snickers, Twix, M&Ms are all among the confectionery brands that have made a successful entry into the freezer cabinet.  However, the brand-extension which is now virtually a no-brainer for low-end mass-marketed chocolate products must once upon  time have been seen as a calculated risk with an uncertain outcome. Merpel wonders why the brand extension process doesn't seem to go in the other direction. Do any readers know of ice cream brands that have been extended into chocolate bars, chocolate lentils or the like?

Right, off to catch the plane home!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

DOVE bars (premium vanilla ice cream on a stick covered with a premium chocolate coating) has given way to DOVE chocolate candy pieces.

Anonymous said...

In which country are such ice cream bars available?

For me, a Dove bar is a piece of soap. I can't imagine putting one in my mouth.

(But I occasionally surprise my cat happily licking away at whatever she finds by the bathtub. Am I feeding her enough?)

Anonymous said...

DOVE bars are sold in the US. They are similar to MAGNUM ice cream bars sold in the UK and other European countries.45

Sally Cooper said...

As a small child (in England) in the 50s / 60s you had a choice of Wall's or Lyon's Maid : I remember because Dad was a newsagent and tied to Lyon's Maid (so there was fuss from time to time if he put another brand in the LM-supplied cabinet) : there were a lot more manufacturers of chocolate ....

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