Some people might have heard that a popular phone app developer had filed a trademark for the word “candy”. This filing really upset a number of people, and to others like myself it confused me why they would try to trademark something so well known and obviously used that there is no way they could ever hope to defend the trademark if they won. What they did was an amazing piece of marketing that most people have never even realized was marketing.
As I mentioned earlier there was almost no way they could have defended their trademark from infringement by others. Not only that because the name is already widely used for other products it would have become a generic trademark the same way Zipper and Aspirin have because of their over use. Yes that is correct, if your trademark is overly generic, or becomes a verb like “Google”, you can lose it. This is one reason why Google will eventually ask people to stop using the word to describe searches on the internet.
So I think it’s clear they knew what they were doing. Candy Crush was already one of the most popular games out, yet they wanted more exposure. What better way to get even more people talking than to file for a trademark for something that they should honestly have no chance of getting? I don’t think the idea was limited to just getting more people to play the game.
They engineered a way to get us talking about the game and the company for a full year before pulling their trademark request. They no doubt drove a lot of new people to try the game, and gained far more in micro transactions than they had to spend on legal bills over the trademark. I think if we look at how things played out we can find the real reason for the trademark request.
On February 26th they ended their trademark attempt, and on March 26th they had their IPO. See the pattern now? Side note, it did not help them as their stock is still below what it opened at in March. I have no idea how much they spent on legal fee’s to try to get the trademark that really did not matter in the first place. When you factor in the extra sales they got, it might have covered the legal fee’s, but the real thing they were trying to do was drive up the value of the shares for the companies IPO.
Now clearly the average reader is not going to be able to do anything like what this game developer has done, but you can get an idea of what a marketing campaign can look like, without making it look like marketing. Some of the best marketing tactics that have been done create a fake or exaggerated problem to drive traffic.
King was not the only one to do something like this recently. Anyone remember Taco Bell and the lawsuit that was filed on them for not being 100% ground beef? That’s right just recently Taco Bell was explaining their “meat product” is 88% beef, and explained what the other 12% was. This is a follow up to a 2011 law suit against them that claimed their “meat product” was only 36% beef.
The class action lawsuit was dropped eventually but only after giving plenty of time for Taco Bell PR to get a ton of free publicity explaining they use 100% USDA inspected beef. Many people now believe the law suite to have been an entirely staged PR move by the company.
So there are ways to bring attention to your brand and help drive traffic and sales. As we’ve gone over things don’t always work out for the best like with King and their IPO, but I bet Taco Bell is enjoying all the extra sales.
What ways can you drive traffic to your site without spending a ton of money? Can a completely fake controversy work for you? Leave a comment below.