Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: New Velcro (brand) video has a familiar hook
By MIKE COTE
"Thank You For Your Feedback" is the latest music video produced for Velcro Companies. Members of the company's "legal team" sing about trademark issues and the alternate names consumers have suggested for the hook and loop fasteners. (COURTESY)
Oh, no -Velcro is singing again!
Sorry, we mean Velcro Companies. The New Hampshire maker of hook and loop fasteners - not to be confused with makers of similar products not named Velcro - has produced another music video featuring lawyers performing a tune about trademarks.
"Thank You For Your Feedback," which debuted last week, is the sequel to last fall's "Don't Say Velcro," a ditty about how using "Velcro" as a generic noun or a verb diminishes the importance of the brand. That video generated 554,000 views on YouTube since last September - and more than 6 million worldwide, the company says.
The new one topped 2,600 on YouTube since it was posted Monday. While it's just beginning to find an audience, "Thank You For Your Feedback" is generating the same snarky comments as the original.
"You should go on tour with attorneys from Jell-O and Kleenex," suggested Anthony Gatto.
Some were meaner.
"I got the message: Don't say velcro, and don't buy Velcro or products with Velcro brand velcro," wrote Chuck Baggett.
The producers incorporated negative comments posted about the first video into the follow-up. Thus, "Thank You For Your Feedback" features lots of bleeped-out words as the "immoral grasping parasites" poke fun at themselves while training consumers to avoid referring to fasteners as Velcro if they are not Velcro-brand products.
Since losing the patent 40 years ago, the Velcro Companies compete with other manufacturers of hook and loop fasteners.
"There is a lot of risk associated with protecting a brand legally, and different brands have different risks. Our particular risk is that people may not respect the fact that it's a brand or they confuse it with other products," said Alexandra DeNeve, an intellectual property attorney who helps enforce trademarks for Velcro Companies. "But that's our obligation as a trademark owner - to ensure that that doesn't happen."
The Velcro trademark, which turns 60 in the United States this year, is separately trademarked in almost every country in the world and is the subject of more than 300 trademark registrations worldwide, according to Velcro Companies. Owners of trademarks like Velcro, Jell-O and Kleenex risk losing them to the public domain - where they become generic terms for similar products - if they don't defend them.
"It's funny because a lot of brands who have similar issues have reached out to us, really loving the message, loving the video," DeNeve said during a phone interview Thursday. "They reached out to us via their marketing team. And I have had my peers at these other brands reach out to me and express a lot of appreciation for the video."
The videos also have been a strong marketing vehicle - so expect more of them.
"We didn't want this to be a one and done," said Julie Barry, director of global brand for Velcro Companies. "We wanted to have an ongoing dialogue and felt it would be important to cap off the first video with sort of a recap video of the feedback and the comments we heard in an effort to keep the dialogue going."
While the barbed comments on YouTube make for funny lyrics, the ultimate goal of the campaign is to change consumer behavior and protect the Velcro trademark.
"We've seen users on Facebook and Twitter actually correcting people that are using it wrong," Barry said. "And so now you have consumers who are helping you get the message out. That's really the whole point of it. It's educational."
Swiss inventor George de Mestral invented and patented hook and loop fasteners in 1941, after observing the burdock plant burr stick to his clothing and his dog. Velcro-brand fasteners are used in hundreds of commercial and consumer products, including medical devices, roof panels and diapers.
In 1958, Velcro Companies began manufacturing the fasteners in Manchester. It employs about 600 people in New Hampshire, including at its plant in Somersworth. Its corporate offices are in Boston, and its global consumer headquarters are in the United Kingdom.
Like the first video, "Thank You For Your Feedback" was produced by Walk West of Raleigh, N.C., with video blogger Penn Holderness. Expect to see another by the end of the summer - one that promises to show the "sexy side" of the Velcro trademark. Barry declined to divulge details.
"It's not unlike having singing lawyers," she said. "I'll have to leave it at that."
Contact Business Editor Mike Cote at 206-7724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.