CommCore Blog and News

You Don’t Know Jack

Generally cease-and-desist letters are not pleasant, to put it mildly. Lawyers tend to write them with the intent of scaring an alleged offender into altering this or that action. “Change what you’re doing, or we’re coming after you, etc.”

Jack Daniels, the iconic sour mash whiskey distiller and long-standing proud corporate citizen of Louisville, KY, surprisingly opted for a gentler approach when it found out that a local self-published author Patrick Wensink had illegally co-opted its well-known brand design for a book cover.

(L-R): Jack Daniel's whisky label and the cover of Louisville-based author Patrick Wensink's new novel, Broken Piano For President

Rather than threaten to sue for trademark infringement and demand the return of any unsold books, they applauded the writer for appreciating the aesthetic and commercial value of their logo. They even scored PR points in social media by offering to pay part of the author’s cost of re-designing the cover for future printings after the current run sells out.

Looks to us at CommCore like Jack Daniels’ PR and customer relations savvy likely trumped the legal department. There’s a communications lesson here for brands – first assess all aspects of a situation that might appear to require penalizing an offender before calling in your hired guns. You may just find there’s an opportunity to gain goodwill, score points for civility, AND remedy the problem without incurring legal costs.