Haulin’ Oats

By Brand Heeler

80’s popsters Hall & Oates take action against granola brand Haulin’ Oats

We were surprised (and felt thoroughly middle-aged) to learn that 80’s pop duo Hall & Oates are currently trending on Twitter. (‘Hall & Who’, Grandad?)

Has there been a hipster-driven resurgence in sleeveless t-shirts, bad perms and ‘taches? Nope – it’s all to do with breakfast: Early Bird Foods of Brooklyn recently launched their HAULIN’ OATS range of ‘artisanal’ granola to huge indifference applause from all and sundry, except from Messrs H&O’s legal department. Never accuse lawyers of having no sense of humour – their complaint perspicaciously identified that HAULIN’ OATS can be construed as an ‘obvious phonetic play’ on HALL & OATES (court documentation filed to date does not reveal whether anyone actually chuckled but, still, we bet these guys are a scream at parties). There’s nothing else on the granola packaging to suggest any connection and it’s not clear whether anyone in the real world has managed to confuse band and breakfast.

This may all be just a desperate bid for publicity and continuing cultural relevance. Having said that, it’s certainly wrong to coattail on the hard work and reputation of others and, whether in the US or the UK, you’re likely to be on the receiving end of some stern words if you try. But, come on guys, there has to be some reputation to coattail on in the first place, otherwise it’s just a pun. And the harsh realities of modern celebrity are that reputations are all too fleeting – just cos you were acceptable in the 80s, doesn’t mean you’re still relevant.

Of course, stranger things have been known – if Paul Newman can hock salad dressing and Barry Norman can become the face of pickled onions, maybe the cereal-eating classes of New England could indeed assume that Haulin’ Oats is the latest [unlikely] endorsement to hit their supermarket shelves. Or maybe they’ll think it’s a fond homage to faded rock legend, à la Ben & Jerry’s ‘Cherry Garcia’.

We may be underestimating the 80’s nostalgia scene in Brooklyn, but we seriously doubt that anyone is humming ‘Maneater’ while munching their way through a nine-dollar bowl of granola. Or if they are, it’s only in an achingly ironic way, in no way suggestive of any commercial association.

The biggest problem we can see here is that we’re clearly in the wrong business – nine dollars for a bowl of brekkie????? It’s enough to make us weep into our Brand Flakes…

This article contains our thoughts and opinions on an issue of general interest and is written from the perspective of Australian and/or English law. It is not legal advice and is not provided in the context of a solicitor-client relationship. It may not even be relevant to your jurisdiction. No duty of care is assumed or accepted. Please carry out appropriate research and consult with a suitably qualified legal expert before taking any action or making any decisions.

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