Orange County - Whoever is in charge of handling the intellectual property for Pepsi may be feeling some heat for allowing a valuable trademark to lapse. The trademark for the slogan, "The Choice of a New Generation" expired, unnoticed by Pepsi, and gave way for a small oatmeal brand to acquire rights to it.
Better Oats, owned by MOM (previously known as Malt o Meal) jumped at the chance to use the lapsed trademark and has launched a new advertising campaign using the slogan as its own.
"Our Better Oats brand is bringing new, younger and more affluent consumers to the instant oatmeal category, and that trend, coupled with our non-traditional campaign, is why the 'Choice of a New Generation' tagline is such a good fit," stated Better Oats corporate communications manager, Linda Fisher.
It appears that Pepsi allowed the trademark to expire in 2006, three years before MOM Brands first applied to register it in 2009. Interestingly, the CEO of MOM (since 2007) happens to be a former marketer for PepsiCo/Frito Lay. Pepsi used the trademarked slogan between 1984 and 1991 with expensive television commercials featuring mega-stars such as Michael Jackson and Tina Turner, making it all the more confusing as to why it allowed it to expire.
Better Oats, which has a meager 1% share of the oatmeal market, has a much different advertising approach than Pepsi. The company does not retain an advertising agency, but instead uses a crowd sourcing platform called Poptent to get the word out about its brand. The move to acquire rights to the famous slogan can be a good way for the small company to attract publicity for its small brand.
There is a possibility that Pepsi can take legal action against the oatmeal company to get its trademark back. Pepsi could argue that it has residual goodwill and that consumers will still associate the slogan with the soda.
Regardless of whether the cola giant attempts to get its famous trademark back or not, this latest snafu will likely cause it to pay more attention to protecting its intellectual property.