By way of Lara Pearson, author of the blog brandgeek I now know more about the band Phish than I ever expected to know. I'm a car guy so you can ask me about Firestone tires. And I am a father who remembers the Where's Waldo books and posters.

What's the connection? Not sure there is one. But let me tell you a story.
There's a guy in Vermont nicknamed Waldo. This guy has, for years been selling hats, hoodies, and baby clothes that are meant to express a loyal fan's undying support for the band Phish. Waldo's stuff isn't licensed. And it goes right up to the imaginary trademark infringement line. But does not cross that line. Or so said somebody when the band Phish sued him several years ago.

Here's where the story gets weird. Waldo brought out a hat to pay tribute to a well known Phish song called First Tube. The hat had a passing similarity to a hat sold by Firestone the tire Company. Not a slavish copy.

And the hat carried the word FIRSTUBE in a script typeface similar to the script typeface that Firestone sometimes uses to promote its FIRESTONE brand. But it also had the letters PH proudly displayed on the back. In sum: yet another tribute to Phish, using the term FIRSTUBE in a script format.

And apparently Firestone went ballistic. Of course you can understand why. When I say PHISH you immediately say Firestone tires. Oh you don't? Well how about if I say FIRSTUBE?

FIRSTUBE /FIRESTONE? They don't sound at all similar to me. But of course I'm not blinded by the Firestone light. And what about all the hard core Phish fans? Will they automatically link their beloved First Tube song with Firestone tires?

Too often, major brand owners start to see the external world through the prism of their internally generated understanding of that world. An understanding that puts their products at the center of the known universe. We're talking tires here folks.


At 4:58 PM, Blogger BrandGeek said...

Thanks for the shout-out, John.

Take a listen to Phish; you just might like it.

Waldo's business model is to sell clothes bearing famous logos in which the brand is replaced by Phish titles / lyrics. Waldo stated publicly that he intentionally uses logos of famous brands.

Does that change your mind at all?


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