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Did Woolworths steal Frankie’s soft drink idea…here’s the definitive comparison, you decide [pics]
Posted by on Dec 20th, 2011

Ok so there’s rather large hoo haa on the go between Woolworths and a small business in KZN who have laid a complaint with the ASA saying that the retail giant have basically ripped off their brand of old fashion soft drinks.

Frankie’s Old Soft Drink Company are saying that Woolies are now stocking a similar range of drinks that closely resembles the Frankies classic range including flavours, bottle shape and vintage design elements. Blah blah blah with the technicalities…let’s look at a comparison shall we and you can decide for yourself.

Here’s the original Frankie’s range.

And here’s the new Woolies range.

Ya hey..i’m not gonna lie. That does look lank dodgy from Woolworths.

Especially after Frankie’s owner Mike Schmidt has stated that Woolworths released  their range soon after Woolworths declined to stock the Frankie’s brand when he approached them as a possible supplier for vintage sof drinks.

“A David and Goliath battle is brewing between a KwaZulu-Natal Midlands soft-drink company and popular SA retailer Woolworths.

Frankie’s Olde Soft Drink Company, which describes itself as a “’micro’ soft-drink business”, has laid a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), claiming that a new line of Woolworths drinks imitates its own line and threatening the company’s existence.” [iafrica]

Woolworths has responded by saying the following.

“We believe that the allegations made against Woolworths are unfounded. We have not infringed any copyright, intellectual property nor registered trade mark. We have also not been contacted by the ASA or any other appropriate authority about these allegations.

“Old fashioned drinks are not a new concept. Flavours such as cream soda, ginger beer and cola are used by a number of soft drink manufacturers and no one company owns the rights to these flavours, and therefore the use of these names. The names of these flavours have also been used widely for decades.” [Bizcommunity]

The matter even got widespread coverage on radio stations around the country in particular this segment from Radio 702.

What do you think?

Did they rip-off the Frankies idea or not?

Flea says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

It wouldn’t stand up in court. I’ve read precedents with products that are much more similiar that haven’t been deemed to be copying. I think Woolies will walk away unscathed from this one…

Am says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

agree wiht Flea
still, Woolies idea not very original.. sad to say.

Aki says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Oh Yeah?

Now that it’s (hopefully) all over, shame on Woolworths

SnorusMaximus says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

That is as much a rip off as pepsi to coke. There are almost no resemblance except maybe for the colour of the cream soda. No copyright markings or even design elements makes up frankies cliam… I would say though that frankies just advertised woolies new range foc and face it everyone loves woolies

Savage says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Hey I love Woolies. Shop there everyday, but come now you can’t say there is no similarity between the fiery ginger beer drinks?

Shaun says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

The “Fiery” Ginger Beer and “Cinnamon” Cola overlap are surely more than incidental.
Of course woolworths copied them, the real question is how can it be proven and what recourse Frankie’s really have.

Maria says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

O woolies, why, did you do this. I would think you could come up with your own concept. aai, aai, skande.

Helmar says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Woolies just lost a customer today. Me.

michael says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Woollies will hide behind legal technicalities and will probably win any court case but the moral cost is high. Such a shame a company with such a good name has been reduced to this.

Bonnie says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I’m rooting for Frankie’s all the way … I have been drinking Frankie’s for 2 years now, I hope they Win!

Gerrit says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

any one standing behind woolies must be employees of woolies or has no ethics. why do entrepreneurs do there own thing and then the “machine” comes takes it over. seems to me that “Proudly south african = no ethics”

vicky_jkwicz says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Did some Christmas shopping with a friend resently because I love to shop,and there are bottles in Woolies that have the ‘sex symbol girls’ on them too just for Xmas.. If Frankie’s pitched the product to Woolies a while back,that just means Woolies stole a bit here and there and everywhere.. Poor Frankie’s!

Anja says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Supporting Frankies – check out this petition on Facebook. “Petition to Woolies to stop faking Frankies” –

@Jono_ejc says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Dddduuuuddddeeeee…. Clearly a rip-off. Just the fact that they have a “Fiery Ginger Beer”.
That is dodge…

Hope the little guy doesnt loose coz they dont have millions to throw at a lawsuit.

sykes cc says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

wow all judging Woollies, its not a fare statement not by a long shot, nobody is issuing complaints against coke, Pepsi, and any other organisation, you can use ns and names of Old fashioned drinks, do your research and you will see its fair game, frankies, are sold widely , and woollies are home brewed, and only sold at woollies, are you going to start complaining to the alcohol and beverages companies, that use the same hobs, the same bottle , the same vodka, its only business, and its a cut throat industry, stop following the crowds like sheep and start thinking for yourselves

Daniel says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I think many people are missing the point here – the issue is not really over whether Woolies copied Frankie’s or not (over all I agree with that neither Woolies OR Frankie’s has ownership over the old fashion drinks concept or even some of the names and flavours used) but the fact that 6 months prior to the Woolies old fashion drinks range appearing on the shelves Frankie’s pitched to Woolies in order to become a supplier but were turned down and told that their product did not fit into the Woolies product growth plan – which is now quite clearly a lie told in order to screw over a local SA small business, which by the way im sure you know we need more of.

THAT is the real issue – Woolies constantly preach about how they support local farmers suppliers and work towards building sustainable business, their actions here however seem to show that Woolies infact do the opposite. THAT is why we are angry, upset and disappointed, no one cares about the copying of drinks we care about morally bankrupt and unethical business practices.

Dave says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

No way. Not even remotely the same. If you know about design. The Woolies is clean and crisp. Possibly borrowing a few cues from the Coca Cola shape. The Frankies stuff is rustic, slightly retro and a tad amateur. yay for Corel Draw! No case.
Keep on Keepin’ on Woolies. I LOVE WOOLIES. (They have Cutie pies instead of Sweetie Pies lets sue them over that rather?)
Storm in a Ginger Beer cup if you ask me?
But you didn’t so. Have a happy Christmas Frankies… which is available where?

MarkBeck says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I don’t think it will hold up in court, but maybe ASA will do right by Frankies cause they DO look very similar, especially the Fiery Ginger Beer. Still, whatever happens, Woolies will have to weigh the cost of the bad publicity while Frankies scores points all round! Call me cynical, but Frankies would have scored less publicity from this if they’d approached the ASA before going to 702! Cool stunt? I’ve had Frankies a few times before, and on one or two occasions, the quality hasn’t been great. I don’t think the quality would have been consistent enough for Woolies.

Paul says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

The concept and design aren’t alike enough to be considered in court, but the variant names have been stolen by Woolies, and they definitely got the idea to do this range from Frankies.

Ill keep on supporting Frankies

Gerhard says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I worked for Woolies for a long time and they helped me realize high standards of ethics, today I am sad and disappointed, how can this great business allow this type of behavior to be acceptable.
It does seem individuals in the Woolies business have found an easy loophole to launch what they now call their own range. The Selector, Category Manger and Business Manger should take a good look at what they did and really be honest about what happened……….surly this is not the Woolies way.
Trying to prove this legally will be very difficult, Woolies taking the honest root and resolving this I really hope to see.
The question now should be, if Woolies is prepared to bend rules in one area what is happening in other areas like:
Do they still know what quality of water is used on the produce?
Is free range chicken really free range but with more antibiotic exposure?
So it goes on

sean says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Who’s pulling the wool?

adam pike says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

bit silly of frankies to go the route that they,
‘ve gone. The idea isn’t original in the first place, and secondly their product is misleading. Itcan hardly be said that the recipes are handed down from generation to generation. One look at the ingredients tells any ordinary that the product is a fake original.

V 4 Vendetta says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Sad that a large corporate like Woolies does not support growing local business and would rather produce their own product.
I have no doubt they could have saved R&D money as well as supported Frankies by re-branding their existing product.
If we want our country to flourish we need to support local business! Yes the bottom line is important but its not the only thing.

Graham says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Frankies have been working hard to create a demand in the market for their product, and it’s not easy winning market share from big brands like ABI. Just as they are beginning to grow, Woolworths bullies their way in to steal that market share.
Aside from the fact that its a locally manufactured brand, stimulating our own economy and employment etc.
Where is Woolworths ethics? They advertise social responsibility, but its really all just about making money.

K says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Woolworths brand themselves as a caring and socially responsible business, but they are as agressive as they come and nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They will suck onto anyone’s good idea and ride it out for all its worth.

Brian says:
December 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

If Woolworths do this kind of thing then they are going to lose me as a customer and some of my friends. Shame on you Woolworths. This is disgusting

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