The war of the caterpillar cakes...

If you don’t frequent social media much, you may not have seen why a humble caterpillar cake was trending recently.

28/04/21

Diane Hall

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Two of our best-loved food retailers went head-to-head over Colin the caterpillar. Colin’s retail parent is Marks and Spencer, who sought legal advice when Aldi introduced their version: meet Cuthbert the caterpillar cake.


Every other major supermarket has their own version of Colin, and this is what surprised many people when Aldi was singled out for prosecution. For instance, Clyde the caterpillar lives at Asda, Curly the caterpillar is Tesco’s creation, Cecil the caterpillar hails from Waitrose, Wiggles the caterpillar represents Sainsburys, and it’s no surprise that Morris the caterpillar is Morrison’s offering.


The crux of M&S’s complaint is that Aldi’s version of the popular cake is practically a carbon copy of their Colin, whereas the caterpillar confectionaries from other supermarkets have enough variations to not be considered a direct reproduction.


However, what really set social media alight was Aldi’s responses to M&S’s plan to haul them to court for copyright infringement. Rather than being scared of the legal threat hanging over them, Aldi took the opportunity to poke a little fun at both M&S and the situation.


From changing Cuthbert’s packaging to mimic a jail cell, to using M&S’s marketing strapline against them (‘this is not just any court case, this is an M&S court case…’) the publicity gained from their inventive and very funny tweets saw the general public side with the budget brand. Many people stated that Aldi’s marketing team should be on course for a pay rise—due to the way they’d got the public on side, the creativity of (and the humour within) their responses, and their bare-faced cheek to poke fun at their adversary when most other brands would have taken to a bunker for fear of further damaging their brand’s reputation.


What Aldi may have to pay in damages could run into the many thousands; however, they have undoubtedly gained thousands of pounds worth of positive PR, marketing reach, exposure and engagement.


Aldi’s first tweet on the topic received 75,000 likes and 10,000 shares, and the hashtag #FreeCuthbert was trending for the whole weekend and beyond. M&S’s silence and stiff corporate stance didn’t help them, as Aldi and members of the public continued to poke fun.


Whilst there are no financial figures or statistics to analyse just yet, to accurately measure the success of Aldi’s recent marketing activity, it’s obvious that it was a big hit with their customers.


Cuthbert’s campaign clearly has (lots of) legs.

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