Free Cheese Friday social media campaign given trademark protection

A social media competition created by UK cheese producer Wyke Farms has been awarded trademark protection.

Wyke Farms: Has registered the Free Cheese Friday trademark
Wyke Farms: Has registered the Free Cheese Friday trademark

Wyke Farms claims it is the first brand in the UK to register a trademark based on the popularity of a social media campaign. Free Cheese Friday was set up four years ago as an online weekly competition to win the brand's cheese, run across the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The popularity of the campaign has doubled each year and now receives more than 25,000 entries per month and has 44,000 followers.

The Free Cheese Friday trademark has been registered with the UK Intellectual Property Office on the basis that it has acquired distinctiveness through use and that a sizeable proportion of that use is as a hashtag.

Rich Clothier, managing director at Wyke Farms, said: "The influence of social media networks is not to be underestimated. At Wyke, social media remain a core part of our communications strategy and are something that we have invested in for several years now. We have seen numerous benefits – increased brand recognition, improved brand loyalty, improved sales and smarter customer insight – this is why we decided it was time to protect our brand by trademarking our competition."

Earlier this year a legal battle was sparked over the use of a hashtag by a US and UK PR agency. Car product manufacturers Turtle Wax and UK-based Dodo Juice both designed a similar marketing campaign where customers take selfies in the reflection of their cars and post them on the brand’s social media platforms. A row commenced when both brands used the hashtag ‘reflectie’ to promote their competitions.

The UK Intellectual Property Office was unable to confirm whether Wyke Farms is the first brand in the UK to register a social media campaign trademark.

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