Seize the Cease-and-Desist Marketing Opportunity

To whomever it may concern,

You are using our property without permission. This isn’t allowed. Legal action will be taken. Remove it immediately.

Yada yada yada - negative remarks,

Signed Brand Name

Cease-and-desist letters are important to protect a brand’s name and property. In the digital age, however, news travels fast and reputations are tarnished easily.

A brand’s reputation is in the hands of the consumer due to the power of word of mouth and internet shares. Marketers can leverage any negative publicity by flipping a less than ideal situation into a marketing opportunity.

Cease-and-desist letters are an unexpected marketing opportunity to gain favor-ability over crowds.

Take Netflix, for example:

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A couple in Chicago dedicated their bar to “Stranger Things” based on the Netflix original series without permission. Netflix responded with a humorous letter, thanking them for their dedication to the show and then “threatening” them to remove the show’s branding from the establishment or face the show’s monster. People all over the internet praised the clever response.

Enjoy this humorous, on-brand cease-and-desist order sent from Netflix about the "Stranger Things" themed bar. 

Enjoy this humorous, on-brand cease-and-desist order sent from Netflix about the "Stranger Things" themed bar. 

Then Bud Light sent a “town crier” in character to ask Minneapolis brewery - Modist Brewing Company to disband “Dilly Dilly Mosaic Double IPA” beer containing their now infamous “Dilly, Dilly” campaign slogan. They also offered two tickets to the Superbowl game being held in Minneapolis as a gesture of “goodwill.”

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When an author used the Jack Daniels logo on the cover design of his new book, instead of asking him to take the books off the shelves, Jack Daniels politely asked for the next printing to have a different cover - maintaining a cool and friendly persona.

All of these examples celebrated the brand and their consumers, and resolve the trademark infringement issue in a “friendlier” way than a generic letter full of legalese. The attorneys who worked with the brands maintained the brand values by initiating a funny, yet reasonable response to the legal issues, which, in turn, lead to free “viral” marketing. A free marketing campaign that highlights a brand’s positive qualities is never a bad thing!

Brands that deal with legal manners in a dry, unfriendly way receive lashback and unpopularity across the web.

BrewDog, sent a cease-and-desist letter to a small bar using its legal trademark. The letter seemed  out of character for BrewDog’s  “brand voice”, which was all about being a “defender of the underdog and champion of individual business.”

The corporate tone sent Twitter followers to backlash against the brand.

AgencySparks even received a letter from a stock photography company that was reasonable, but less than friendly - leaving a bad taste. It prompted us to write a blog post about copyright issues, but it also made it unlikely that we will do business with the defending company due to the way they handled the situation.


The next time your brand encounters a negative situation, think about how it could be spun into a beneficial opportunity. Which of the brands reactions we highlighted lead to an increase in loyalty and purchases? How can you take advantage of a similar situation to leverage your brand and also reap a marketing boost?

Cheers and “dilly, dilly!”