Thursday 29 July 2010

Darren Olivier

The Tour De France - an inspiring anti-climax

This post is about a short trip to Paris and a talk that Afro Leo (amongst others) gave to marketing professionals yesterday in Sandton arranged by Knowledge Resources and filmed for CNBC Africa's Media&Money show presented by Jacqui Nel.

Outsourcing to Africa

The Paris trip makes the blog because it involves an instruction by a large company based in France that is rebranding its business in over 80 countries and has a growing patent portfolio to protect its technologies. That in itself is not unique nor is the that fact that the company is using legal resource in another country to help draft the patent specifications, create the drawings and manage the re-branding project. What is both exciting and different is that the outsourced country is based in Africa as opposed to more common outsourcing destinations such as India, the Philippines and New Zealand. It is also further evidence that the nature of the IP legal function is changing too.

The interplay between Marketing and Trade Mark Attorneys

Of course, being at the final stage of the Tour de France on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is quite special; Paris in general is intoxicatingly beautiful and the cafe culture thoroughly absorbing. Watching those race the TDF live though, is a dramatic anti-climax. In a blink "the amazing men on their cycling machines" that have raced over 3500km in under a month are gone. Lost on the casual viewer is the teamwork, the inter and intra-team dynamics, the personality of the peloton, the tactical nuances and the commentary of Phil Ligget to explain it all. In many ways, the work of a marketing professional and trade mark attorney can be underestimated and overlooked in the same way.

For example, when a casual observer views a 10 second commercial about a product or service the immense amount of time and skill required to achieve the exact message and its ability to win consumers in a highly competitive space is really appreciated only by others in the know or by others who can explain it. Likewise, the trade mark attorney's work (which can take months) ensuring that the advert is lawful and that the right measures are in place to ensure that the effort of the canny marketer cannot be used or stolen by the competition, suffers a similar fate.

Pic right: wish you were here.. just for a blink

We can take the TDF analogy further too. If one considers the peloton as the competitive space in which a company operates - filled with other marketing teams all trying to launch their brands as breakaways to distinguish themselves from each other - then it would be foolhardy for any marketing professional to do so without help. Indeed just as the peloton sucks in and overtakes the considerable efforts of a lone breakaway 500m before the finish line then so will the competition seek to deal with a new brand attempting to win market share. The successful breakaways work as teams. The encouragement to marketing professionals yesterday was to include the trade mark attorney in that team and make every effort to understand how that attorney can help achieve ultimate success of the breakaway brand. In turn the trade mark attorney needs to understand that what is trying to be achieved and put on a "can-do" hat to assist with that success. There is always a "yes". And that was the nub of yesterday's discussion.

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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