David and Goliath by @JackWorkfish

The “David and Goliath” concept of a small/mid-sized company getting steamrolled by a mega-corporation is not a new story – that is what corporations do; they find a weakness in a competing up-and-coming product/market, and then find an opportunity off the back of this weakness to boost their own sales. If that fails, they just buy said company (then generally break it up, which always seemed counter-productive to me).

It’s rare that you hear of a success story where David beats Goliath, or even one where David puts up much of a fight – when faced with the plethora of legal support that these corporations have to hand, it’s hardly surprising. In essence, corporations bully the market – they prey on the fact that 99% of smaller companies aren’t going to be able/willing to try and stand up to their argument, and as such they can do what they want.

David Goliath

Figure 1: Most small companies are powerless to stand up to their corporate competitors

With this in mind, I found it incredibly refreshing to see Lush winning their high-profile court case with Amazon earlier this week over the online retailer’s use of the word “lush” to sell rival cosmetics. Lush don’t sell via Amazon and claimed that Amazon was misleading customers into thinking they were buying genuine Lush products, as they were using the word “lush” to promote similar products.

Mark Constantine

Figure 2 Mark Constantine has refused to be pushed around by Amazon

Mark Constantine, co-owner of Lush tried to deal with the issue outside of court on no less than 17 occasions, but Amazon had no interest in doing so – they thought they’d win the case and be able to take a large chunk of Lush’s business with it. However, after Amazon lost the case, Constantine came up with his own ingenious way to get back at the giant retailer – to name a product range after Amazon’s MD, Christopher North, a range they describe as “rich, thick and full of it”.

They have trademarked his name and already put a product onto its shelves, with Constantine stating “If you’re not going to behave in a way that’s appropriate, there should be some comeback.” The product playfully states “top tip: Kindle a new love for your skin, it’s not taxing to take care of your skin with this product packed with Amazon Prime ingredients”.

n-NELSON-large570

Figure 3: The Christopher North Shower Smoothie – “Rich, thick and full of it”

It’s a great example of a company not lying down, but fighting for their rights. It’s also a great example of a company playing its hand a blinder – they not only stuck to their guns and got the outcome they wanted, but also picked up a load of PR off the back of the launch of the new range. Hats off to you Mark Constantine, cases like this give me hope that more companies follow suit and stand up to big-business bullies and if possible, to turn high-profile legal cases into good press for their products.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jack Field is a former consumer PR practitioner that is now helping PR’s get jobs at @weareworkfish  (jack@workfish.co.uk)

He tweets from @JackWorkfish and blogs for @PRExamples also

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