Friday, 7 September 2007

David VS. Goliath

In 2003, Levis threatened to sue small welsh clothing company Howies. It seemed that Levis had a patent on the position of the labels on the back pockets of their jeans. And Levis felt that even though Howies' Jeans were a different style, had a different coloured label and put that label on the other back pocket, consumers would get confused between the two brands. Howies couldn't afford a long legal battle, so they launched a PR campaign: Operation Tickle.

They introduced a colour-blind test for people buying their jeans, to tell if people could recognise the difference between the Levis label and the Howies label. They set a spelling test; could consumers spell words like oppresion and corporation, and they distributed stickers to cover Levis labels. They gained so much publicity from this that Levis couldn't stand it, so their lawyers called a meeting to stop it. Howies said they'd need a room big enough to fit all the press in, and Levis weren't too keen on that. So Howies suggested that they should arm wrestle for the results, and Levis clearly decided their money-grabbing fat cats weren't really up to that kind of physical exercise.

It's great that a small company can stand up to a big evil corporation. It's great that Howies were so focussed and original in the way they did it. And it's great that they won. Hooray for David!

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