It You Can't Beat Purveyors Of Unauthorized Copies, Join Them — With Style
from the win-win-win-win dept
One of the perennial questions around here is what companies should do about unauthorized copies of physical products. As readers will know, on Techdirt we don’t think automatically filing lawsuits is the way to go. This little vignette from the New York Times reveals an alternative approach that is smarter and more remunerative:
At a pop-up market stall just off Canal Street, the Madison Avenue of the unauthenticated, shoppers have spent the last week snapping up off-price, jeans, hoodies, T-shirts and boxer briefs with a familiar, almost-right logo:
DieselDeisel. Sure, the “i” and “e” are on the wrong side of their usual do-si-do. But you get what you pay for. They’re $69.99; Diesel jeans generally start well over $200. Forget it, Jake — it’s Chinatown.
Companies like Diesel spend significant resources chasing down counterfeiters and stamping them out. According to Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel and president of its parent company, the Only the Brave Group, the label shut down 86 websites hawking fake products last year. But Mr. Rosso was crammed into the small, wood-paneled shop on Friday with no intention of dampening Diesel. He’d created it.
Rosso has realized that even unauthorized copies act as marketing for the original, and help to boost the brand. By producing his own fake versions, Rosso not only spreads the word about his company’s products, but he even makes money from it. Moreover, by introducing a rival into the market of copies, he probably dilutes the other fake brands and maybe even their profits. It’s a win-win-win-win situation, which Gucci too is keen to exploit:
Gucci has riffed on its own bootlegs (and styled its own “Guccy” logo) and set up shop with Daniel Day, better known as Dapper Dan, the counterfeit couturier it had once threatened out of business.
It’s such a simple, clever idea, you wonder why no one has thought of it before. And the answer is — they have. As Techdirt reported nearly nine years ago, a South African t-shirt designer sold its own counterfeit line and used that to boost awareness of the original products, while also being able to differentiate and sell into new markets — and make money too. What’s significant about the latest examples in the New York Times story is that it is top brands that have realized the power of this approach. And even if the idea of coming out with authorized “counterfeits”, as Diesel and Gucci are doing, is not original, that somehow seems appropriate.