Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A circular argument

I logged on to Facebook at lunch, and was confronted by this curious social ad:

Now, as a working adman I know this tactic all too well — but that doesn't mean I'm immune to the tease. However, instead of taking my chances on a blind click-through, I googled it.

It's a Facebook cause page:

"The Circle, yes THE Circle, humanity's old friend and hardest working shape, is under attack and desperately needs your help.

The world's largest corporation is trying to limit the use of the shape that has belonged to everyone and nobody since time out of mind.

Help SAVE the CIRCLE. Join the campaign for freedom of speech and internet rights."

Turns out Walmart has filed an injunction against UFCW's Walmart Workers Canada group, demanding that they not use the company name, uniforms, in their communications or even, "an oval, circular or semi-circular design that adopts the essential characteristics and color scheme of Wal-Mart's Rebranded Indicia."

This is just the latest round in the battle to unionize Walmart in Quebec, and one that UFCW is taking to the court of social media.

The injunction is clearly aimed at unauthorized use of brand elements, but Walmart Workers Canada are throwing the vague wording back at the lawyers, pointing out the absurdity of banning circles. There's even an Onion-esque fake news video on YouTube:

Will this one catch on? The video is a little awkward, granted, but this is just the kind of push-button slacktivism that social media are famous for. So far, the Facebook page only has 405 members and the YouTube vid hit 2,321 views. But PR-wise, this can't be good news for the big box boys.

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