In case you missed it, in the past week Specialized Bicycle Co. received a huge backlash for sending a cease and desist letter to a small bike shop in Canada called Café Roubaix. Specialized has a bike called the Roubaix and were alleging that the bike shop was infringing on their copyrighted name. The social media backlash that supported Café Roubaix was incredible with their Facebook fan page ballooning to nearly 15,000 likes and Specialized bashing became a trending topic.
It was a publicity nightmare for Specialized and it only became worse when Fuji Bikes announced it was the actual owner of the Copyright for Roubaix and they licensed it to Specialized. Specialized’s CEO flew to Canada and offered a personal apology to the bike shop owner and said they would not follow up on the cease and desist, but the damage is done.
This morning I saw another post on a clothing apparel brand called Epix Gear saying they have also received a cease and desist from Specialized because their logo resembles specialized.
Is this corporate bulling? What is the appropriate way to respond when someone takes a name you have been building and uses it? I have a local example that is similar to the Specialized/Roubaix example, but in this case it is Corporation using a non-profits moniker. It involves a local non-profit, Look! Save a Life and Allstate. Allstate has a new safety campaign to try and tackle the accidents involving bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists on the roads of Tucson. The program is called “Tucson on Two” and one of the first ads has the slogan “Look Twice, Save A Life”, but this program has nothing to do with the local charity, “Look, Save A Life Arizona”.
At this time, having seen the public outcry towards Specialized I think any company that is in the cycling industry and makes a stink over copyrights has the potential to see it explode in their face. What makes this case with Look, Save a life even harder is that the message that “Tucson on Two” is promoting is very much in line with the safety message that the charity is a proponent of. It is easy to say, how can more of good thing be bad even if it is potentially confusing a brand identity.
I spoke with Kylie Walzak at Living Streets Alliance (they are also a part of this campaign). I opened the conversation by asking is she knew anything about “Look Twice, Save A Life”. She relied that she knew Brendan Lyons (the founder of Look! Save a life). If that is not a clear indication of how confusing this is, I’m not sure what is. I also talked with the City Of Tucson and am told the signs and billboards are only a small part of the Allstate campaign. They said the slogan of Look Twice grew organically and that they choose it because it was catchy and conveyed the message. Was it so catchy because they had been hearing it for a few years?
A little disclaimer I feel I should ad in here. You might notice on this blog that I have the Look! Save A Life Logo and a link to them. I also have been helping them with publicity for nearly a year. I am an administrator and create some of the content on the Facebook Page. However, I do not have the final say in anything that they do. This article and my conversations with the City and LSA were in an attempt to create a dialogue that will lead to a win-win outcome and avoid any negative mojo.
How do you feel Look! Save a Life should respond?