But we paid good money for that!

brand

(brānd) n.

    1. A trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer.
    2. A product line so identified: a popular brand of soap.
    3. A distinctive category; a particular kind: a brand of comedy that I do not care for.
  1. A mark indicating identity or ownership, burned on the hide of an animal with a hot iron.
  2. A mark burned into the flesh of criminals.
  3. A mark of disgrace or notoriety; a stigma. See Synonyms at stain.
  4. A branding iron.
  5. A piece of burning or charred wood.
  6. A sword: “So flashed and fell the brand Excalibur” (Tennyson).

American Heritage Dictionary

Though I am not certain, I would guess that our modern definition of ‘brand’ referring to a particular known company producing a certain item probably came from the marking of livestock and criminals. As in the past, the symbols and names of a brand denote a kind of ownership, a possession of both the symbol itself and the materials that make it. In some ways, it remains a demeaning mark. Branding in the modern sense often has longer-lasting unintentional consequences in the restrictions placed on the reuse of branded articles.

Take the recent purse prototype by TImbuk2. Made of recycled plastic bags (which really need to be reused, as they are very UN-biodegradable and often pose a hazard to animals), these flash-laminated bags are both water repellent and designed to take advantage of the bright colors and interesting shapes of the plastic bags themselves. Unfortunately Target saw the use of their bags as an infringement of tradaemark, rather than a promotion of their brand.

In some ways, I can understand Target’s side of the story – they are protecting their rights and defending their interests. And I’m sure they spent a considerable amount of money on the design of their bags, which use their logo interestingly. This good design is probably a part of why TImbuk2 included the Target bags in a prototype purse. But whether or not Target eventually takes advantage of this sort of niche eco-conscious market for bags, the Timbuk2 prototype probably would’ve done little harm to the Target brand.

The question for me that comes out of this story is the freedom given to corporations regarding the extension of brands. The question is not so much whether or not Target’s rights were being violated with the reuse of the bags, but whether or not the bags should be branded at all. Especially in a case like this, where the bags are detrimental to the environment, should corporations be held responsible for the number of bags the produce? Should they be rewarded for the number they recycle? Due to the branding of the bags, wouldn’t a corporation see excess bags as additional advertising, rather than a detriment?

It is for situations like this one that I am not a libertarian. The interests of business in this case are not aligned with the public good. The government, whether national or local, should step in to regulate how many branded article should be allowed, how they should be used, and what the environmental impact of such use can be. In addition, there should be a limit to how long brand-name packaging protection can ‘last’. If you want to brand a shirt, fine – the trademark protection endures. If your brand name is on a product package, that box or bag or plastic wrap should be immediately ‘free’ for re-use. Even advertising, such as billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, and even TV and radio spots, should have a certain shelf-life of protection. Afterwards, the public should be free to use it as it pleases. If it happens with copyright and patents, branded goods should be limited int eh same way.

Advertisements

The Search for 7up

In a recent discussion with Oven Glovers, I realized once again the loss of the 7up brand at all major restaurants.  As a Pepsi product, 7up had often been a part of my general youthful dislike of Pepsi products (stupid restaurant – where’s my Coke?).  It was also the source of much fun in the form of the game Heads Up, Seven Up.  As I reminisced about my last drink and my last drink together, I realized it had been awhile since I’d seen 7up in a restaurant.  The light soda battling Sprite had become Sierra Mist, an unworthy opponent even for the questionable 7up.  Everybody knows that Sierra Mist is now a Pepsi product, but 7up is still available in grocery stores.  What had happened?  Did 7up suddenly split off as a company?  Were they bought out?  Was it all a result of the popular ‘Make Seven Up Yours’ campaign?

I easily discovered that 7up is part of Schweppes in the US and Pepsi in other places around the world.  But more information was not available.  When did that happen?  Also, the 7up website lists it as part of a Dr. Pepper company.  Huh?  I thought the Dr. was Coke!  This site gave 1986 as the date that the Pepper and the Up merged, but I can remember the Uncola being all around restaurants after that time.  I needed more info.

So.  The end of the story is various.  1) Certain drinks (like Dr. Pepper and 7up) have different owners in the US and other countries, meaning that even the drink recipes could vary between countries.  2) Dr Pepper and 7up have been together since 1986, after various fallouts and mergers, ending with a 1995 merger with Cadburys.   3) Cadbury Schweppes is the #3 soda distributor in the US after Coke and Pepsi.  Evidently this means they can be friendly with each other and get mutually agreeable distribution contracts at places like Hardees.

This article does fill in a little more about recent trends.  However, there is little I could find that links up why 7up and Dr. Pepper are not typically served together.  The search continues…