Why you should boycott Monster Energy Drink

Do it for your brand and for our collective sanity The old rules said that big companies with well-budgeted legal departments could quietly...

17 Oct 2009 4044 Views

Do it for your brand and for our collective sanity

The old rules said that big companies with well-budgeted legal departments could quietly bully competitors and vendors into submission with the threat of litigation – regardless of their guilt or innocence. The new rules say you will do this at the peril of your brand.

Vermonster vs Monster

This is exactly what is playing out in the peaceful village of Morrisville, Vermont (pop. 2,009). A microbrewery there named Rock Art has a beer called Vermonster.  Hansen Beverage Co of California who markets and distributes Monster Energy Drink has filed a cease and desist letter against Rock Art. Hansen wants Rock Art to retire its Vermonster brand (for which is has a legal trademark) on the basis that it will cause confusion with the energy drink. Matt Nadeau, who owns the micro-brewery, feels Monster has no case. His lawyer agrees. However, tiny Rock Art would not be able to afford a legal battle against beverage-Goliath Hansen.

Five years ago, Nadeau would have no choice but to pull the brand from the shelves. Today, thanks to social media, Nadeau can put his case out in the court of public opinion. And that’s  exactly what he has done. He has mobilized Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in his defense as well as the company website.

There are few stories that spread as quick as David vs Goliath. This story is no exception. In just two days the outrage has spread from Morrisville to Mumbai and now to Malmö. The video has already received over 42,000 views. By comparison Monsters last TV spot aired on YouTube a year ago and has only received 20,000 views. Can you see who has the larger share of voice?

Protest groups have started up as well calling for a boycott of Monster Energy Drink. Two new Twitter hashtags have been introduced to show solidarity #boycottMonster and #monsterboycott.

 

 

I’m all for protection of trademarks, but this is nonsense. It is the result of an over zealous lawyer looking to justify this month’s retainer fee with little regard for anything else – including his client’s brand equity.

What that short-sighted lawyer knows nothing about is how the world works today. This type of bullying goes public immediately and is not tolerated by consumers or stockholders. My guess is you will see a compulsory social media Mia Culpa by Hansen as they frantically try to distance themselves from this debacle in the coming week.

So why should you join the boycott and spread the word? Because most of us are not Goliaths. We do not like these type of dirty tactics and “nuisance lawsuits” and for once we have a way to end it. So lets do it. Spread the word and perhaps Goliath and his lawyers with think twice about kicking the next David around.

BTW: Vermonster is also a name used by Ben & Jerry’s, also of Vermont.  I’d like to see how many rounds the Monster brand could take in the ring of public opinion against the world’s most beloved ice cream brand.

Source of Rock Art photo above: AP

Munster vs Monster POST SCRIPT:

Having visited a Monster Energy Drink fan page on FaceBook,it occurred to me that both Brooklyn Brewery (makers
of Brooklyn Monster Ale) and Wachusett Brewing Company (makers of Green Monsta beer) could use Hansen’s own logic to demand that Hansen stop selling Monster energy drinkbecause people may confuse it with their beers (The Brew Club has actually listed 55 beers with monster names).

Also based on Hansen’s logic, I heard that Herman Munster is now considering litigation against the Monster brand on the basis that the energy drink may be confused with his 1960’s sitcom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Also:

RunawayJim.org

Mashable

Associated Press
 

 

Like this post? You'll find more marketing insights in my new book: International Brand Strategy: A guide to achieving global brand growth, now available from booksellers globally. Order your copy here.

Sean Duffy | @brandranter
Speaker, consultant & founder of Duffy Agency, the flipped digital agency that provides accelerated growth to aspiring international brands.