NEW CGI Directory

Home Press Releases Multi-national brands reveal U ...

Press Releases by

Multi-national brands reveal UGC strategy

Online Brand Protection Think Tank suggests a balance must be struck between protection and collaboration

September 13, 2007; 03:51 AM
London – Companies need to strike a balance between online brand protection and taking advantage of the brand promotion opportunities presented, according to a Think Tank of leading international brands which met at London’s Tower 42 recently. Delegates from Unilever, De Beers and Thomas Cook discussed the growing online brand protection and reputation management problems facing businesses today. The Think Tank was chaired by Jonathan Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of online brand protection and domain name management specialist, NetNames, and also included representatives from leading law firm, Addleshaw Goddard and internet intelligence specialist, Envisional.

The online brand protection think tank delegates tackled the most urgent brand and reputational challenges resulting from online threats and the growth in popularity of user generated content. Key issues included: how rapid online developments could threaten and damage brand reputations built offline; the threat from fraudulent and counterfeit goods being marketed online; and how companies can protect their brand reputations from online threats.

The delegates weighed up the threats and opportunities user-generated content presents and went on to discuss how brands should deal with any negative consumer commentary. The panel concluded that brand owners should not be viewing user-generated content simply as a threat, but as an opportunity.

Katrina Burchell, Head of Trademarks at Unilever said, “From a consumer product point of view, these user‑generated content sites are very much our consumers, so the insights that they give us about what they are interested in; what they’re watching; and what they’re doing can be invaluable.”

Delegates called for a new framework enabling companies to weigh up the obvious threats against the opportunities to harness valuable information. The way for brands to do this is to shake off knee-jerk reactions to negative comments, but qualify each case according to its impact before appropriating a response or not.

Richard Wells, Intellectual Property Counsel at De Beers said, "The thing that is very difficult to do is weighing up someone's legitimate expression and freedom of speech on the one hand, with your interests as a brand owner to ensure that people aren’t either trying to dilute your rights or damage your reputation in some way.”

David Engel, Partner at Addleshaw Goddard added, “One question to consider is the extent to which the site is being picked up by other media, such as the press. Another question is how many hits it is getting. Those considerations need to be factored into any decision to take legal action against the site.”

Next to be discussed was the growing threat from increasingly sophisticated domain name speculators and the new grey market of ‘domain name tasting’. The panel concluded that in this case, action needs to be taken by the registry and brands must ensure they act quickly if a relevant domain name falls into the wrong hands. There were also discussions regarding a costs penalty for cybersquatters as there is currently no financial downside for them of losing dispute resolution proceedings at WIPO or Nominet.

Finally the delegates called on IP rights holders to be realistic in their aspirations, as the majority’s desire for complete control goes against the flow of the Internet community. Companies must realise that this user-generated content will never disappear and it would be a better approach to work with it rather than to unilaterally try to counter every incident.

Jonathan Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of NetNames and chairman of the online brand protection think tank concluded, “The verdict is pretty clear: although there are threats to brand reputation from negative user generated content, the insights to be gained on consumers activities and preferences through this content also presents businesses with a massive opportunity to build more personalised relationships with their customers. Brand owners must be more pragmatic about the evolving online environment and move with the times rather than continue to try to apply old-world ideals to a new battleground. Companies need to find the balance between protecting themselves from threats like cybersquatting and working with the Internet community where possible, rather than against it.”

Related Press Releases and Features
Other Press Releases by This Company
UK flooded with fake must-have toys for Christmas - December 14, 2007
British brands lag behind European rivals in online brand protection stakes - December 7, 2007
P&O Ferries protects key European routes online - November 29, 2007



Related Resources

Other Resources