LOL! Procter & Gamble tries to trademark everyday acronyms

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Proctor & Gamble (P&G), the multinational manufacturer of famous household products including Febreze, Fairy liquid, and Mr Clean, has made trademark applications in a bid to better connect with its millennial target market. The applications were made for the following acronyms: LOL (laugh out loud), NBD (no big deal), WTF (not going to spell that one out) and FML (!),back in April this year and are yet to be approved.  The acronyms are to be included in products such as soap, detergents, and air fresheners – with the hope that millennials (those born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s) are more likely to buy them if they’re branded with slang and text speak.

This new strategy is being spearheaded by a new activist investor and board member, who felt that the company had previously failed to respond quickly to movements in consumer preferences. The investor feels that younger consumers do not want “one size fits all” brands, but products that they have an emotional attachment to.  Perhaps millennials, when faced with actually having to use cleaning products, may have one or two of those acronyms in mind.

Whether this approach works out remains to be seen, but it is clear that applying for trademarks on oft-used expressions can be tricky.  In the US, there are over 483 trademarks containing the abbreviation “OMG”, while the EU equivalent database has some 177.  If P&G are to be successful in the US and the EU in registering everyday acronyms,  they may have to be selective over its goods for which they register them.