Unbelievable arrogance of Mars Inc
Given the current high profile of Mars the planet due to the recent arrival of the Curiosity rover, I had better make it clear this title has been earned by the company Mars Incorporated , the one behind the Mars bar.
According to the Aberdeen & North News from STV, the company is seeking to ‘distance’ itself from the deep-fried version of the Mars bar, claiming it does not “promote a healthy active lifestyle”.
Mars Incorporated has written to the owner of the The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven (yes, I have sampled the goods, but not, I have to admit, a deep-fried Mars bar), Lorraine Waterson and asked that a disclaimer be added to the menu, stating that the item is not endorsed by the company.
In a smarmy apology for a compliment, the company said it was “flattered” that their product was part of the Carron’s “flagship” product, but then went on to state:
“However, we are concerned that the use and reference to our Mars brand and products may mislead the public into thinking that your products are in some way associated with, or endorsed by Mars, when this is not in fact the case.
We are also concerned that your products are not in line with our marketing code, through which we promote a healthy and active lifestyle to consumers and treats in moderation.”
It finishes by whining on about having reduced the level of saturated fat in the their Mars bar, and saying that deep-frying them “counters this significantly”.
One has to wonder why Mars has bothered to raise the point, as the Carron is reputed to have invented the “Deep Fried Mars Bar” some 20 years ago. Is the company looking for some free publicity (are its ‘reduced fat’ Mars bars as tasty as the wrapper they come in these days?)
While I can thing a few choice things I’d like to suggest in response Mars, including the inevitable instruction for whoever came up with that stupid letter (this involves them inserting a Mars bar where Sun don’t shine), I think a much more reasonable and cooperative reply could be returned to the company.
I would write back informing them that I would happy to provide them with a written and binding agreement to include the statement they request on the menu – as soon as they provided evidence that they had contacted every fish & chip shop, café, restaurant, snack bar, greasy spoon etc etc that offered the option of a deep fired Mars bar on their menus, and had also provided a similar undertaking.
However, until such evidence was forthcoming from the company, I would decline their request as being unreasonable and prejudicial to my business if it was the only one to be singled out for this addition to the menu.
I might add that the delicacy is now said to be available worldwide, with the Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United State all said to have it on sale now.
Still, Mars Incorporated is a big company, so getting somebody to send out the required letters, and legally documenting all the replies should be a simple task for it. Shouldn’t it?
Then all it has to do is send out the proof to all the signatories.
Alternatively, just ignore them and make sure any subsequent threats that arrived were shared with all the media services.
It’s ridiculous – once you buy the thing, it’s yours and you can do what you like with it. You’re not leasing it, or hiring it.
There are no Terms & Conditions of use – it’s only a bar of chocolate with some toffee and nougat you are going to eat, after which it will be gone.
Sad and bad news, since it could set a precedent one day – the Carron caved:
Lorraine Watson from the Carron Fish Bar told BBC Scotland she had written to Mars to say she was happy to put up a “disclaimer” notice in the shop.
Seriously – a large company has used (or abused) its position and walked all over a little one for no good reason.
I ask again: Why does the Carron have to have these disclaimers on public display all over the place, when dozens (if not hundreds by now, since we know that at least 66 exist in Scotland alone) of other eateries do not?
More on the delicacy here:
In case you’re wondering why there a pic of a plate of chips accompanying this post and not a picture of a Mars bar… I’m no mug, and a company like Mars, capable of sending such a letter to a little chip shop in Stonehaven that has done nothing wrong, would probably take the greatest delight in suing me (for being critical and mocking) for both copyright infringement and trademark infringement if I was careless enough to use a picture of their product and logo without prior permission, and maybe even payment for the privilege – and that is never going to happen.