June 10, 2023

Brand Hijacking

In his book Brand Hijack, Alex Wipperfurth defines a brand hijack as “Consumer takover. The consumer’s act of commandeering a brand from the marketing professionals and driving its evolution.” Basically, a brand hijack is every marketer’s wet dream. It’s marketing without marketing. It’s why we still refer to Puffs brand facial tissues as Kleenex, It’s why the Blair Witch Project was so successfull, it’s why Google exists as a verb in the dictionary, and it’s a phenomenon that Apple doesn’t understand.

So now you’ll understand why I’m utterly confused when I see that Apple is sending nasty cease and desist letters to PodcastReady over the terms “podcast ready” and “my pod.”

It’s clear that nobody in their right mind would confuse these terms with the Apple Ipod but what’s worse is that Apple doesn’t own the trademark on any of those terms. They don’t even (as of the time I write this) own the word podcast, nor do they control the word pod. To be fair, the word pod was used in products way before Apple ever thought to use it.

I know that trademark law requires you defend it or lose it, but in this case they don’t own the trademark to defend. Worse, even if they did it’s clearly more beneficial for them to not defend it. It’s a little know fact that a “podcast” is nothing more than a fancy word for a “recording.” It may shock you more to know that you don’t even need an ipod to listen to a podcast; winamp works just fine.

A clear argument can be made that using the term “podcast” instead of “recording” or “mp3” actually drives sales of ipods.

Is there something I’m missing here, or does Apple just not get it?

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com