A Butt Face Marketing Lesson

I just love this lawsuit kicked off by The North Face – an premium preppy outdoor apparel and gear company – vs. The South Butt – a skunk works operation run by a college kid.

The North Face giant is suing the kid – Jimmy Winkelmann, a University of Missouri college student for trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition.

The logos and clothing are a bit similar. And, The North Face’s lofty slogan, “Never Stop Exploring” is positioned against the far less lofty and comfortable mission of The South Butt’s which is, “Never Stop Relaxing.”

For The North Face to win, they have to prove that the two brands are confusingly similar. They’ll lose…I’d bet on it. There’s no doubt that the two companies are different.  I think the average person knows the difference between a face and a butt. Don’t you?

In the meantime, The South Butt is smoking hot and taking advantage of being bullied – their Web site has earned nearly 20 million Google hits.  The South Butt smartly recognized that everyone loves the underdog so they’re making the case well known. And they’ve launched a cool The South Butt Challenge Facebook App to boot!

Jimmy’s going to ride this all the way to the bank and I’ll also bet that he graduates from Mizzou with no school loans!

What’s the marketing lesson? Well, it’s an old and simple one.

The North Face should have left sleeping dogs lie and left Jimmy alone.  They’re flaming his fire and contributing to his success by airing their grievance.

This is a classic case of market share leaders making the stupid mistake of identifying and attacking competitors no matter how big or small.  They have nothing to gain and more to lose.

Class dismissed.

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