Recent press coverage of the state's Oregon Wild seafood promotion and its decision to drop the campaign because of a difference of opinion with the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC) portrays the state as bungling its marketing effort and wasting state resources. I think it would be useful to get some facts on the table.
The Oregon Wild logo was released to the public in December 2003 and first used in promotions in April 2004.
Developed to highlight Oregon's high quality seafood products such as salmon, pink shrimp, Dungeness crab and albacore tuna, the marketing effort has been a major success for Oregon's seafood industry. Consumers responded enthusiastically to identifying Oregon seafood in grocery stores and restaurants, and sales of these products increased.
ONRC's use of Oregon Wild is for environmental advocacy, not seafood. To date, consumers have not expressed any confusion between the State's Oregon Wild seafood promotion and the ONRC's environmental educational effort of the same name.
Contrary to other public statements, when ad agency Wieden+Kennedy searched for a trademark on Oregon Wild prior to its release in December 2003, none existed. In fact, ONRC did not file any trademark applications until May 2004.
Until that time, ONRC's use of "Oregon Wild" was confined to a few Web site references and fundraising materials that made no claim to trademark ownership at all, much less in the area of seafood commodities.
When ONRC contacted the state about their perceived conflict between the two slogans, the state worked to resolve the issue. We proposed alternatives for how we might use Oregon Wild, such as always using the slogan with another noun. For example: "Oregon Wild Caught Salmon" and "Oregon Wild Dungeness Crab." Such uses were rejected by ONRC.
I don't believe the courts would agree with ONRC's position that they have exclusive rights to use "Oregon Wild." The law allows multiple parties to use the same name when it is used for different purposes. Both the state's legal counsel and Wieden+Kennedy's legal counsel have assured the state that our use of Oregon Wild is sound. But regardless of the merits of the state's case, the ONRC has threatened litigation unless we cease use of Oregon Wild entirely.
Under these circumstances, is it really in the best interests of the taxpayer to use precious state resources to defend against ONRC's allegations? The state said no, not because we believe we are wrong, but because stewardship of taxpayer dollars often means making tough decisions like this one.
director, Oregon Department of Agriculture