Procter & Gamble’s Bullying Problem

Procter & Gamble was in the news this week not for a particularly good reason: it has sued an 11-year-old Connecticut girl and her mom, makers of a boutique skin care line for preteens, over trademark infringement.

The beauty products named “Willa,”created by Christy Prunier and her daughter, Willa. P&G asserts that the name is too close to its brand Wella. Really?

Prunier has stated that the small production of purple bubble baths and lip balms do not endanger Wella, and told The New York Times,  “They are intent on shutting me down.”

This already sounds like a case of a huge corporation challenging a small brand, creating a David-vs.-Goliath public image problem for itself.

Before today I had not even heard the name Wella since about 1976. Frankly I thought it was still called Wella Balsam, made for models with enormous amounts of blonde hair. Willa, with its purple color scheme, sounds kind of cute and I want to buy some for my niece.

The Wella brand was bought by P&G in 2003, although it was started in 1880 by a  German wigmaker. Who knew?

Stay tuned and in October a judge will decide on Wella vs. Willa.

Publish date: September 30, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT