Johnson & Johnson Sues the American Red Cross. Were Marketing Consulted?

red cross

With brands falling over themselves to try and build a closer affinity with consumers and a positive association with their products, the mind boggles as to why a leading brand such as Johnson & Johnson saw it fit to launch a lawsuit against the American Red Cross.

I can only imagine the eruption in J & J’s marketing department when they heard that the lawyers had been unleashed against such a respected charitable organization. The phone lines must have nearly caught fire with the furious exchanges hurtling around that day.

The American Red Cross have been selling health and safety kits using the red cross logo, which J & J believes is an infringement of their trademark, despite it not appearing anywhere on J & J’s website.

Not only are they demanding that the American Red Cross halt trying to make any money, but also want all the kits destroyed and financial compensation on top, which is even more counterproductive when you consider that J & J claim to make a donation to the Red Cross every year.

The American Red Cross have, however, been fighting back, with president Mark Everson responding, “For a multibillion-dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statute … simply so that J&J can make more money, is obscene.”

I expect that the next time mothers go shopping for baby lotion they will probably think twice about handing money to a business that profits from raiding disaster relief funds.

J & J have failed to realize that pursuing short term monetary gain in such a destructive manner could irreparably damage their image in the long-term, and cause profits to fall as a result.

The Patent Barista said it best: “The legal case is on shaky ground, the red cross symbol is universally recognized as standing for medical care, and the PR backlash is going to be ruinous.”

Whilst I’m on the subject of the pursuit of short-term gain at the expense of long-term growth, England’s Premier League have decided that YouTube publishing clips of goals is an infringement of their copyright, and want damages as a result.

The Premier League appear to believe that the engagement of football/soccer fans on YouTube, in sharing their favorite clips and posting comments, is detrimental to their brand.

Had YouTube been showing live feeds then you would understand their cause for concern.

But when the matches have already been broadcast for anybody to record, watch back at their leisure and share then the Premier League’s concern seems basely and is hampering the marketing of the sport being driven purely by the passion of fans.

When you also consider that the Premier League are desperate to break the US market, and could be using the internet to promote the sport, then it seems even less likely that marketing were consulted on the decision.

The Premier League’s battle to keep control, and to lock down what they see as their content, is simply going to damage their image in the eyes of fans and make them appear as a money grabbing organization, rather than the curators of their beloved sport.

The window of opportunity is now open for the lower leagues to get their own clips uploaded into the vacant slots. By allowing fans to engage and share their passions for their favorite players and teams it will foster a closer affinity for the lower leagues and attract more fans as a result.

The rules of marketing are shifting, and the sooner the lawyers are notified of this the better.

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GO Johnson & Johnson

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