Remember the fight of the mighty (and mighty tasty) chocolate caterpillars? Please see, Colin v. Cuthbert – A tale of two caterpillar reputations.
Colin the M&S chocolate-cake caterpillar is aggrieved at the alleged impersonation of him by Aldi’s Cuthbert the chocolate-cake caterpillar. Accordingly, he has complained about Trademark infringement, and may be arming himself with lawyers to battle it out head to head (and feet to feet to feet to feet… etc.) in the court. But Aldi’s Cuthbert is seemingly taking his battle straight to the court of public opinion, by launching a public relations campaign showing some real caterpillar chutzpah.
According to reports by Auntie, notwithstanding Colin’s legal grievance, Cuthbert – whom Aldi had stopped selling in February before the trademark complaint by M&S had been raised – is coming out of semi-retirement. And he is coming out fighting. The mission of a limited edition Cuthbert is seemingly not to stick two fingers (or many of his legs) up at M&S (although that certainly might be what M&S infers ) but to benefit charities including Teenage Cancer Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support. Cuthbert rather cheekily invites Colin not to be beasties, but to be “besties” – and to join forces to “raise money for charity, now lawyers”.
Now that is certainly some caterpillar cajones!
In the world of reputation management – irrespective of the rights and wrongs of any legal issues – how you publicly respond to legal complaints and frame your argument; how you engage with an opponent including the medium used, the words chosen and tone employed; whether you get angry or get even – they can all be just as important as any legal win itself. Reputation management is about managing a reputation; and in this field, there are many ways to skin a cat-erpillar.
Some may applaud Cuthbert for his ballsy approach. Others may decry him for using the emotive subject of teenage cancer to engender support for his chocolatey cause. Whichever side of the garden fence you are on, it seems that the public stage, in court and out, is set for Colin v. Cuthbert – or for what might turn out to be the next Godzilla v. Kong perhaps?
This article was originally published on LinkedIn on April 20, 2021.