Strong branding is the backbone of any successful company, particularly those looking to appeal and sell to consumers. Businesses want potential customers to know what they can provide and loyal patrons to know what they can expect and count on from the products and services they provide. As such, it behooves any company to take steps to protect their particular intellectual property and brand, and to be vigilant in protecting that brand against potential infringement or degradation at the hands of imitators or competitors. And occasionally, those measures can seem a bit ridiculous to the general public.
Campbell's Soup, a dietary staple of sad bachelors and U.S. senators alike, announced that it had trademarked the term "chunky" in reference to its line of chunky soups. In its filing, Campbell's noted that the term had entered the pop culture lexicon, citing references from "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons" to songs and books making note of the brand's chunky soup offering.
CNBC notes that the use of the term "chunky" in conjunction with Campbell's dates back to 1969, and that the term gained its significance and attachment to the brand over the course of $1 billion in advertising from the company since 1988, most notably the "Mama's Boy" commercials featuring then-NFL stars Reggie White and Donovan McNabb enjoying the product as served to them by their mothers.
To the neutral observer, the trademark filing might seem overly broad and vague or downright silly. (What other brands could benefit by promoting their products as "chunky"?) But Campbell's move shows both the wisdom of both strong and consistent branding and IP protection. Its place in pop culture might largely appear to be as the butt of jokes, but the fact that those references can connect and be understood by a mass audience proves that branding, as cynical as it may seem at times, works; audiences know what Campbell's Chunky Soup is, and they likewise know that "chunky" soup is Campbell's creation. Any company looking to build a customer base could hope to build a brand that strong.