We need “Occupy Madison Avenue.” November 29, 2011Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Bo Muller-Moore, Chick-fil-A, corporate outrages, English language, free speech, freedom of speech, Occupy Madison Avenue
Our friend Ben was horrified to see in yesterday’s Yahoo news that an artist from Vermont is being attacked by Chick-fil-A for using the slogan “eat more kale” on his hand-screened T-shirts, bumper stickers, and other products.
Like everyone, I’m sure you’re aware of Chick-fil-A’s highly effective (and trademarked) advertising slogan “eat mor chikin.” Our friend Ben loves the clever Chick-fil-A ads in which cows try to divert hungry diners from burgers to chicken, which always remind me of that wonderful Far Side cartoon where you see two bears in a hunter’s gun sights, and one is pointing hopefully at the other.
The rest of the world must love the funny ads, too, since Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A ranks second only to KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) in sales, or, as the article put it, “in market share in the chicken restaurant chain industry.” Ulp, if that wouldn’t give one pause to begin with.
But that’s not all. According to the article, Chick-fil-A has cited 30 previous examples of people who attempted to “co-opt” the use of the phrase “eat more,” all of which backed down after the company sent its lawyers after them. Now it’s going after Bo Muller-Moore’s “eat more kale.”
Our friend Ben is no lawyer, but I take exception to Chick-fil-A’s attempt to co-opt the English language. “Eat more vegetables/leafy greens/fiber/fish/whole grains/your favorite here” was around long before Chick-fil-A, hence, I presume, their humorous spelling, “eat mor chikin,” which allowed them to trademark the phrase to begin with. I could see a case if they discovered someone using “eat more chicken” or, say, “eat mor beaf” or “eat mor srimp” or something as their slogan. Like the company’s lawyers, I would see that as trademark infringement.
But “eat more [food]” is plain English. Chick-fil-A has no right to co-opt the English language, and neither does any ad campaign. This is our language, not the exclusive language of advertisers, and we’re fighting for our rights to keep it available to the public. Suppose tomorrow, you’d be sued if you told someone “I love you” because some corporation had trademarked the phrase? It’s positively Monsanto-esque.
It’s also worth pointing out that Bo Muller-Moore has not launched a chain of kale-themed fast-food restaurants. He is not even a kale farmer, or a restaurant owner whose establishment specializes in kale. He’s an artist attempting to spread the good word about eating locally through his wearable art. How Chick-fil-A could see him as competition is beyond our friend Ben. I can’t see kale outselling chicken anytime soon, either, for that matter.
I say, go Bo! I hope you get a definitive ruling in your favor from the Supreme Court. It won’t just be a victory for you, but for all of us who support free speech. And Chick-fil-A, shame on you!!!!