Today’s post comes from marketing genius Spin Williams, who is always engaged in The Meeting That Never Ends.
At The Meeting That Never Ends last night we all looked at a photo that’s all over Twitter – a middle aged woman is standing next to a young man. The two of them are gesturing towards each other in that jokey way people do when they want the picture to be about the fact that they are in the same frame with THIS person.
We all thought it was charming, but the ensuing kerfuffle over Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, KSTP-TV, and #Pointergate raises an important question about your fingers.
Who owns pointing?
KSTP and some folks connected with the Minneapolis Police Department would have us believe that when you raise your thumb and direct your index finger at the person standing on the side of your body opposite that hand, you are pledging allegiance to a group of selfish, scared, violent bullies who have taken over complete cultural control of that gesture.
No, not a media corporation. A neighborhood gang!
What got us excited was the potential of it all. What if a Minneapolis gang DOES own cross-body pointing? That would be an awesome marketing opportunity! And what about all the other gestures and multiple ways of arranging body parts? There would be a sudden “hand rush” to buy up all the possibilities. Why would anyone go to the trouble of dealing drugs and murdering if they could sue people instead over the way they arrange their fingers?
We asked our staff lawyer, Britta Mandamus, to look into it. She focused on her phone for 30 seconds and then came back with this conclusion – “You can’t trademark a hand gesture. The Internet says ‘No’.”
That settled, we calmed down and moved on to other business but a minute later Britta interrupted to say “The Internet is contradicting itself – maybe you can.”
That got our juices flowing again! Immediately we started talking about taking steps to gain control of gestures and postures like that “thumbs up” and “peace”, along with that fingers-spinning-around-the-ears “crazy” signal everybody loves, and my personal favorite, arms akimbo.
But in the middle of that hopeful conversation Britta dashed our dreams with the news that you have to turn your gesture into a printed logo before you can protect it.
In other words, the photo that got us all excited at the marketing possibilities of hand gestures would have to be put on an “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt before we could make any money.
If you had seen our slumped postures, downcast eyes and frowny expressions in that moment, you would have wished you could trademark all of them, for they spoke volumes.
Sadly, not every day brings a victory.
Yours in Marketing,
What gesture is your trademark?