Why the my dough girl vs pillsbury corporation bugs the heck out of me as a small business owner.

I don’t usually get worked up about stuff like this and while I enjoy and try to support the occasional cause, this one really gets to me.

I’m a small business owner, one of the greatest nightmares of any small business is running into something like trademark infringement or having a big business tell you what to do and have no power or recourse to fight it.

This whole thing bugs me on multiple levels. I’m a small business, been in business for about 7 years, if I was socked with a cease and desist by a big corporation I think I would probably just decide to fold.

Having moved across country twice in a year and having to go through re-registering a business, making all sorts of online/offline and other information changed, with the state, with the IRS etc. etc. etc. I had (and still have) headaches enough as it was. If I had to change my business name I wouldn’t even want to think about it. It’s the nightmare come to life.

I know this kind of thing is fairly common but it bothers me that A. it’s a fellow food person trying to make her dream of a food business work and B. it could be anyone (including me) and C. the term doughboy has been around since War 2, there are many other businesses with the term doughboy in them.

I understand it came up because she tried to trademark applications for My Dough Girl for categories in which they operate, a direct quote from their FB page:

“As many of you have seen, we’ve been working with the owner of My Dough Girl to resolve our objection to her recent trademark application. The application was for categories in which we operate, including cookies and refrigerated dough products nationally. Unfortunately, we needed to protect our trademarks — and we did. We are working with the owner of My Dough Girl to help lessen the impact to her business.

We want to emphasize that we are listening and hear your comments. We have started this discussion thread for this reason. We love our fans and would like to maintain a friendly atmosphere here for everyone to participate in and enjoy. Thank you!”

I can honestly perfectly understand Pillsbury’s angst about having her trademark competitive products, I mean heaven forbid a better product came out and competed against them. But why not just deny the applications, why make her change the name?

There are many many other businesses out there with the name doughboy in them, this is the doughgirl (gender identity problem here?) Yes Pillsbury did have a doughgirl as a 70s toy, I believe I actually had one and probably tortured it just as much as my Barbies by forcing them to play Star Wars scenarios with it.

But Pillsbury didn’t trademark Dough Girl and if anyone looks at the little dough boy (who bears a remarkable resemblance to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, get your lawyerly pens ready to sue Columbia Pictures Corporation for that one Pillsbury) and then looks at the branding for the Dough Girl’s, you need to be smoking something mighty fine (or whatever) to think they bear any type of resemblance to one another.

I’m getting more peeved about this because I’ve been following the comments on both the my dough girl vs. Pillsbury corporation and Pillsbury’s page and several comments by people who think that why doesn’t she just “change her name” really stick in my craw.

Methinks made by people who are not small business owners who don’t know what “just changing a name” entails. A comment by a friend of mine (who happens to be going though the stages of setting up her own small business) sparked this.

If My Dough Girl had been a brand new business there would be less (but still a lot to do) to change all the work she’s put into her business.

As a business owner if I had to change my name (and I’m a service business) it would probably take me an estimated 200 plus hours of my time (and that’s a conservative estimate) but several thousand dollars to actually have things reprinted, directories redone etc etc. If I had an actual brick and mortar business I can only guestimate at what changing a name would entail. I would say in the realm of 500 hours (and that as well is a conservative estimate) and maybe $100,000 in physical changes. Just to throw a few numbers out there, think about new signage, new packages, new packaging, new brochures, labels, business cards, all literature designed and printed (big bucks here), new website, new branding, new everything. I know what starting a new brick and mortar business can cost and having to rebrand and rename a business would come a close second cost wise. What a nightmare.

Seeing Pillsbury basically ignoring posts on their Facebook Fan page I think is doing more damage to their brand then actually addressing the problem. I can understand the legal beagles and PR people not wanting to inadvertently insert feet even further down their throats then they have already, but putting canned responses up to comments is worse then no replies at all.

As my husband pointed out, in 6 months people probably won’t remember this, but many (myself included) will have developed negative associations with the Pillsbury brand and when we shop, I think our minds and hands will reach for a competing product subconsciously.

One wonders if Pillsbury has thought long term about this, I’m one single grocery buyer, multiply my yearly Pillsbury purchases times 5 years, say about $1000. Add in the 2000 people currently that are fans of the my dough girl vs pillsbury corporation fan page,

Equals $2,000,000.00 add in another several thousand people who Pillsbury has gotten under their skin about this $4,000,000.00, add in continuing negative publicity about this, add in maybe another $10,000,000 in lost sales (conservatively estimated.)

That’s a lot of dough.

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About Chef Forfeng

Innkeeping Tip and Tricks: Please check out some marketing ideas for Inns and B&Bs, Blogging ideas, Facebook Tips and Social Media Tutorials https://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/marketing-for-lodging-resources/
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