This week, Old Navy launches its 2011 holiday marketing campaign, which "invites customers to 'Come fun, Come all' and experience the secret source of all Old Navy fun — the place where the brand's quirkiest ideas are born and tested."
The "magical tour of where the brand's fun and quirky ideas are born and tested" is called "Funnovations Inc."
It's a way for Old Navy to breathe a little excitement into the brand by giving consumers a look at, and some input into, its product pipeline. The only question is if Old Navy used its Researchovations department to see if the Willy Wonka-esque "Funnovations" was already trademarked. (Hint: It is.)
From the press release announcing Old Navy Funnovations:
"Beginning with a TV spot on November 3rd, the campaign will come to life across all customer touch points including stores, television, online and mobile devices throughout the holiday season. The first commercial will tell the story of the Old Navy "Perfect Puff" jacket and how the teams and magical machines at Funnovations Inc. make sure the coats are made with "just the right amount of puff." Future spots will feature entertaining portrayals of Old Navy's funnovative experts making some of the brand's other signature items. As part of the initial launch, Old Navy will also release a digital 'tour' of the Old Navy lab within Funnovations Inc. via its YouTube channel."
The only problem — since at least 2009, Woodplay, the "Original Redwood Playset Company," has used Funnovations™ as the brand name for its line of accessories for its playset products.
Old Navy did return a request for comment, while a representative for Escalade Sports, owner of Woodplay and Funnovations™, confirmed that the brand was aware of the situation but offered no further comment "on such subjects that we still have under review."
Carnival Cruise Lines also briefly used the punning coined term in 2009, declaring, "There's tons more funnovations aboard Carnival Sensation." But a Google search for "funnovations" places Woodplay at the top of search results (before Old Navy's press release hit today), so it's not like it was hard to see if the phrase was in use and trademarked. Which raises the question if Old Navy or its agency bothered Googling the term before running with it.
As Ad Age notes, Old Navy's previous "Supermodelquins" and subsequent music-based campaigns were something of a disaster*, coming from a CMO who has now left the brand, leaving Tom Wyatt, Old Navy's president, as the acting CMO to drive the Funnovations scheme through the holiday season.
And really, is it any surprise Old Navy might not have done all of its due diligence on the new campaign? Old Navy is a Gap Inc. company, which has, shall we say, struggled with obvious details like this.
*In all fairness, Old Navy's partnership with Shazam to enable interactive "shopping from a spot" around its music-based advertising this past year was innovative, even if it didn't impress Kim Kardashian.