Several years ago, Italian consumers flocked to grocery stores to buy "Cacao Merivigliao" (Marvelous Cocoa) only to find that the product didn't exist. The creation of the writers of Italian national TV's "Indietro Tutta" ("Everything Backwards - or AFull Speed Astern") variety show, the mythical Brazilian Cocoa began as a satire of TV spon¬sorship. "Indietro Tutta," as a show, poked fun at other Italian variety TV offerings. The "Cacao Merivigliao" segments featured the show's host, Renzo Arbore, standing in front of a huge product logo--the face of a smiling Brazilian girl--surrounded by Las Vegas style showgirl dancers. The commercials themselves were an over-the-top send-up of typical food and drink product ads
The satire backfired when consumers began to insist on buying the product at their local stores. The question then became whether the product would ever become available. Under Italian law, the person or company who first registers the name of a new product with the trademark office has the rights to it, and several individuals and firms claimed to have been first on the scene at the trademark office. The Italian National TV Network (RAI), food marketer Buitoni (through its Perugina candy subsi¬diary), cocoa importer Toschi Vignola, and film distributor Shlomo Blanga all claimed to have registered the "Cacao Merivigliao" name at about the same time.
If Buitoni or Vignola win the rights, Italian consumers will soon be able to buy "Cacao Merivigliao." If, on the other hand, RAI or Mr. Blanga (who claims merely to be a fan of "Indietro Tutta") win the rights, they have sworn that the name will not be allowed to be used on a commercial product. Complicating the issue is the fact that the law states that a trademark can be retained only if it is actively used.
a. How does this set of conditions relate to the application of the marketing concept in a real world situation?
b. Discuss the ethical considerations behind the actions of the four claimants to the "Cacao Merivigliao" name. Are any of their positions ethically questionable?
c. What changes, if any, would you recommend be made to the Italian trademark law as a result of this event?
1. In a real world situation an assessment is made of who the customers are, what services they want now and in the future, and what benefits they are seeking. In this case this assessment was made by Buitoni and Vignola but the product name was not theirs. They identified the demands of the customers and wanted to meet these demands. The problem they faced is that fact that they did not create the name but wanted to make money from it. In a real world situation ...