What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot actually.
You might have noticed a subtle change to the wedding collection pages recently. What was the ‘Champagne & Mermaids’ collection, has mysteriously become ‘Starlight & Mermaids’ instead. The reason for this change is an email I received from the legal department of the Comité Champagne in France.
I’m sure everyone’s well aware that Champagne has Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée status, meaning that only sparkling wine produced in one particular french region has the right to be labelled with the name Champagne. It came as quite a surprise to discover that this extends beyond the world of food & drink, and that the Comité Champagne has the right (which it routinely exercises) to object to anyone in any field using the name Champagne. The concept of Champagne has become so ingrained in our collective consciousness - a symbol of celebration, of decadence - that it’s easy to forget that it’s essentially a collective brand name for some pretty big companies.
It did take me a few days to figure out what I was going to do; I don’t mind admitting that at first I wondered if it might be some kind of hoax! I needed to read the email a couple more times, and do a quick google search to convince myself this was actually happening! (After all, why would Champagne be worried about me? Should I feel flattered that the deemed me significant enough to bother about? Or insulted that they felt I might be diluting their brand? That’s the trouble with running a small business - absolutely everything is personal!) I can’t imagine for a second that anybody would think I was selling a competitor to Champagne, any more than I was offering actual mermaids…
Having dismissed ‘ignore it and hope it goes away’ as a viable strategy, I came to the sad conclusion that the only thing I could do was to rename the collection. Even having a sister-in-law with legal training, I suspect the might of LVMH (owners of Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug and Dom Pérignon) might crush us like a bug under their (impeccable) shoe. Doesn’t it seem a little ironic though, that the Appellation Contrôlée legislation, originally devised to offer protection to small producers of high quality niche products, has ended up on the side of some of the world’s biggest corporate names?
So I’ve bid a fond farewell to my ‘Champagne & Mermaids’ collection, and welcomed a strikingly similar ’Starlight & Mermaids’ collection to the world. I’m hoping the new name still captures the same sense of romance and refined glamour, even if it now feels a little more ethereal than celebratory. After some thought, I think I’m happy with the new name, but I do wonder: does it make any difference to anyone but me, (and the Champagne legal people!)?
Also, the other thing I’ve been wondering: did Oasis have this trouble with “Champagne Supernova”?