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Woolworths withdraws 'Good Old Fashioned' vintage soda range

Following a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of 1 February 2012, Woolworths has announced that it will withdraw its entire vintage soda range from the shelves, despite the fact that the ruling only called for the removal of the phrase 'Good Old Fashioned' from the labels.
In a media release, the group states, it is disappointed by this decision, as it believed that no one could own this descriptor. However, it has always been clear that it would abide by the ASA decision.

Whilst it maintains that it has not copied the Frankies range (the complainant), it is clear that public sentiment is against it. Customer opinion is much more important to the group than the right or wrong of this issue and the trust of its customers is far more valuable than a product range. The group apologises to its customers for disappointing them.

Details of complaint

Zeiler Jankey attorneys lodged a competitor complaint on behalf of Frankie's Olde Soft Drinks against the packaging of Woolworths' 'Good Old Fashioned' soft drinks range.

The packaging contains, inter alia, the words 'Good Old Fashioned'. The complainant submitted, inter alia, that it commenced using the phrase 'Good Old Fashioned Soft Drinks' in 2006 and that it appeared on all its point of sale and advertising material such as posters, table talkers and fridge wobblers. At the time, no soft drink company in South Africa used the advertising concept 'Good Old Fashioned Soft Drinks'.

By 2008, the complainant's products had extended from KwaZulu-Natal to retail outlets in Johannesburg and the Western Cape. All the time, the concept of 'Good Old Fashioned Soft Drinks' continued to be emphasised on point of sale material. The distribution of point of sale material (posters and table talkers) increased dramatically in 2009 and was kept consistent during the following years.

The respondent causes manufacturers of branded products to produce these products also for sale under the Woolworths brand and manufacturers of branded products package products for and on behalf of Woolworths. Having regard to the advertising goodwill attaching to 'Good Old Fashioned Soft Drinks', it is likely that a customer who sees the same soft drink in Woolworths bearing 'Good Old Fashioned' will be confused into believing that the Woolworths product has been bottled by the complainant for Woolworths. Woolworths / Frankies / 19254 (01 Feb 2012).

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Important issues to be addressed

"We have won the battle but not the war", says Mike Schmidt, CEO of KwaZulu Natal beverage producer Frankies Olde Soft Drinks Co., after he learned that the ASA had ruled in favour of Frankies.

"Although we are thrilled about the ruling, there are still important issues to be addressed. We knew that the distinctiveness of our brand was at stake and had to do whatever we could to protect it. We are extremely happy that the ASA ruling will ensure that Frankies' image will remain unique," explains Schmidt.

The full findings can be found on the website.
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