You may have seen last year, very publically that Oatly brought a smaller independent business, Glebe Farm Foods to court over claims that their dairy alternative milk specifically the branding of their oat range was too similar to their brand.
Phillip Rayner, the owner of Glebe Farm responded to the claims made by Oatly:
“We have had the threat of this court case – looming over us for more than a year. We have always felt certain that we have done nothing wrong, and we were determined to fight Oatly’s claims that our brands were similar”
He also touches on his opinion on the comparison of the two products:
“You only need to look at the two products and packaging side by side to appreciate how different these brands are, and how unnecessary this legal action was.
In The Midst
During the ongoing battle, Glebe Farm still had its voice and was keeping its consumers up to date with all the proceedings. To take some of the seriousness off of the situation they even branched out to their consumers to help them generate a new name for their oat range.
Some could say the jab back wasn’t necessary however how else are you supposed to make light out of this situation. Humour normally is the best way for brands to overcome situations like Glebe Farm Foods found themself in and it also allows consumers to joke with you.
Glebe Farm’s response on social is a great example of how you can increase engagement on Instagram in a bid to spin a potential lawsuit into your favour in the eyes of the public. Using the looming factor to their advantage that they may have to change the name of their oat range to something that wouldn’t be considered too similar to Oatly’s name into a competition.
And with no surprise, users were more than happy to get involved! They even collated their top 3 responses from those that participated in the competition on Instagram and created new packing using their suggestions.
Judge Rules in Glebe Farm Foods Favour
However, the allegations made by Oatly were rejected by the judge last August. In light of this, Oatly not only lost the lawsuit but also received backlash for taking a small business to court.
According to The Drum, delving into the social listening data they found that in August 2021 39% of the talk on social media had direct links to Oatly following the court ruling against them were negative. It also showed that even in the three months leading up to the date of the court ruling, 13% of the overall conversation about the brand online was negative.
Glebe Farm Foods Response To The Win
We aren’t surprised that Glebe Farm is probably gleaming with the result of the judge’s ruling and I for one am happy for them! It’s tough for smaller businesses to go up against big multinational giants for a number of reasons, one being the amount of money it costs going through the whole process, which you can see above even those they beat Oatly they are still paying the price for battling it.
Again, Glebe Farm showcase another great example of utilising the tools they have in front of them, turning it into a simple billboard can just be as effective. On that post alone from their own social media account, they received at least 4 times the amount of engagement they normally achieve on their Instagram account. Look at some of the comments they received!
Is There Room For Others In The Alternative Category?
Owner of Glebe Farm, Philip Rayner shares his thoughts on the future of his industry:
“There is room in a growing category for alternatives. We’d like to think growth opportunities come from positivity in broadening sector choice, rather than from trying to shut things down and limiting consumer options.
From reading all of the above, it makes you question the possibility that we could again see the giant take on other brands that create milk alternatives especially ones that use the main ingredient of oats. And if the market becomes saturated with so many different alternatives it will become increasingly difficult to not mention the main ingredient of the product within its name or range. Therefore will we likely see more lawsuits in future within this industry?
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