Hey raving fans, STOP promoting my product!

There are very few products that have emerged in my lifetime that have captured the marketplace as pervasively and quickly as the iPod.   

It seems like just about everyone, from man to moose owns and loves their iPod.Picture_9

Owners spend hours and millions of dollars (via iTunes) to craft custom playlists that are the embodiment of a mood, a relationship, a favorite activity or a phase in their lives.

Which must make Apple giddy.

So here’s the puzzler. 

In Des Moines, a local  and "in" bar called the The Lift has been hosting iPod Mondays for the past two years.  Bar patrons bring their iPods and get to play DJ for 15 minutes, while they share one of their favorite playlists.

Let’s look at the ingredients of this:

  • Everyone at the event either owns or is surrounded by the iPod and participating in an event that highlights how much fun the product is.
  • To create a playlist, most users are going to spend money at iTunes.
  • Over two years, people have bonded over a product they love — and bring new people every week.
  • The "in" bar is endorsing the product and producing advertising that touts it.

In a very "Microsoft-like action" Apple representatives contacted the bar and told them that their event and the associated website were a violation of Apple’s trademark guidelines.

What is happening at Apple?  Why aren’t they offering to sponsor this event?  Sending prizes and free download coupons?  Why isn’t Apple paying the Lift a brilliant idea fee and taking this to bars across the country?

What happened to the organization with the incredible sense of grassroots marketing and community building?

Read the Des Moines Register story — Download ipodmonday.pdf  

Photo courtesy of  Stumpy Moose.

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12 comments on “Hey raving fans, STOP promoting my product!

  1. Drew,

    I’m….well…stunned. Shocked. I have so bought into the Apple brand…I’m writing this on my 5 day old MacBook. I’m anxious to see where this story goes!

  2. Paul McEnany says:

    Ahh, lawyers, gotta love ’em.

    Or not.

  3. Mark True says:

    Clearly, the trade mark owners have a responsibility to protect their marks, but this had win-win written all over it, until Apple erased it all.

    Why not provide The Lift with a few free ipods as prizes for the bar to give out to these rabid fans. Ask them – not tell them – to add the line “(R) ipod is a trade mark of Apple” at the bottom of the website and the ads for the event.

    So simple, yet so difficult for some people.


  4. I applaud Curt for just pulling the plug and moving on. I am sure he had several heartfelt conversations with himself and his loyal patrons about re-naming it and keeping it going or stopping it all together. Part of liking Apple – besides their great products – was that they have been the small guy for so long, the perverbial underdog up against Microsoft. It feels good to help a derserving “small guy” get ahead. Well, the small guy needs some new britches these days since he obviously outgrew the ones he’s had for so many years. Why should another little guy like the Lift help them grow into another -for free?

  5. excuse my faux pas – my applaud goes to Clint Curtis.

  6. Cory,

    Welcome to the team. DOn’t you just feel cooler because you have a Mac?

    Admit it…it feels good!


  7. Paul,

    I know…I get that legally they are in the right. But didn’t you fantasize that Apple of all people had lawyers that actually could se the big picture and get it?

    I’m a little crushed.


  8. Mark,

    I know — I thought the same thing. It seems like a “duh.” And if Apple doesn’t get it — what hope do we have?


  9. Jennifer,

    “Well, the small guy needs some new britches these days since he obviously outgrew the ones he’s had for so many years.”

    Exactly. Which is why its so disappointing. I loved being part of a fan club where the leader didn’t really get or care how cool he was.


  10. Thanks for the linking back to us — much appreciated!

  11. Paul McEnany says:

    Drew- I totally wish that. I don’t hold much respect for these “semantics lawyers.” It’s all just mostly a waste of time…

  12. Paul,

    Do you think this new surge of citizen driven marketing will make the “lawyering up” problem magnify or will “we” be able to make it go away?


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