Sorry National Pork Board, but if my choice is between a nice juicy pork chop and a the breast of a woman I’m going with the breast every time. In this instance it’s the breast of search marketer Jennifer Laycock. I hope Jennifer forgives my reference to her anatomy, but in this case the issue is about her breasts or rather her breast milk.
I don’t know Jennifer personally. My only connection with her is through my participation at the Small Business Ideas Forum, where I post and Jennifer posts and moderates. Jennifer spends much of her time editing Search Engine Guide, one of the more informative sources in the world of search engines and search marketing. She also happens to be one of the nicer people you’re likely to encounter online.
Apparently the National Pork Board isn’t quite as enamored with Jennifer as the blogging, small business, and seo communities, because they’ve slapped a lawsuit on her over her selling a shirt promoting breast feeding with the slogan “the other white milk.”
A little over a year ago Jennifer began a project called Zero Dollars, a Little Talent, and Thirty Days, a chronicle of the first 30 days of her starting a new online business. The book details how she set up a CafePress store, The Lactivist, selling t-shirts and other items to raise awareness for breast milk. If you haven’t read it before follow the previous link and download the free ebook. It’s a great read and offers many helpful tips on marketing an online business.
As I mentioned one of those t-shirts bears the slogan “the other white milk,” an obvious play on “the other white meat” which is the trademarked property of the National Pork Board. I’ll let Jennifer tell you the details about the letter she received informing her of the lawsuit as she can tell you much better than I can. I’ll also follow Danny Sullivan’s advice and link to Jennifer’s post at the Lactivist with the phrase Back Off National Pork Board.
Here though, is a quote Jennifer posted from the cease and desist letter she received:
“In addition, your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board’s mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan “The Other White Milk.” “Dairy Diva,” “Nursing, Nature’s Own Breast Enhancement,” “Eat at Mom’s, fast-fresh-from the breast,” and “My Milk is the Breast.”
Huh? I never once took any of these slogans as an attempt to promote breast milk for adults. It never once crossed my mind. The National Pork Board is nuts. An adult at most is supposed to find the slogans cute and maybe chuckle or smile and become momentarily aware that breast feeding is the option mother nature provided for feeding infants. Who in their right mind would think those slogans are implying that adults should be breast feeding?
Does Jennifer’s slogan call to mind the pork slogan? Of course it does. But all that’s done for me is remind me to eat more pork. If anything Jennifer has been helping promote pork with her slogan about breast milk.
I have no experience with the legality of the situation. Perhaps this does fall under some kind of trademark infringement and the National Pork Board needs to enforce things to maintain their trademark. I can understand that, just as I can understand how I’m not allowed to google something or make a xerox. What the National Pork Board doesn’t understand is the viral nature of marketing and the internet.
“the other white milk” is a play on the pork slogan, that only helps to reinforce that slogan. Maybe they have to file a lawsuit, but Jennifer is right that they could have and should have emailed her first requesting that she remove the shirt from the CafePress store. I’m sure had they done so the t-shirt would be no more and no one would have ever heard about the story. Instead you’ll likely be reading about it on a variety of blogs just as you are now here.
The good news for Jennifer is the lawsuit and the viral spread of the story will only help promote both the Lactivist store and breastmilk awareness.
Shoemoney is maintaning a list of blogs where this story is being posted.
As for me it’s getting close to dinnertime and while I haven’t yet decided what I’ll be having, I do know it won’t be pork.
I’m happy to say that the seo and breast feeding communities do have some pull. In Jennifer’s words:
I have received an apology from Steve Murphy, the CEO of the National Pork Board and we are currently working toward a resolution.
I’ll leave you to read her post, An Update on the “Pigsteria” and the Mother’s Milk Bank Fundraiser, for more details.
If you liked this post, consider buying my book Design Fundamentals