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Copycaterpillars – Aldi's social media triumph

April 2021

Reading time: 4 minute(s).

Aldi rocketed to social media stardom this week following a legal dispute over the nation’s favourite celebratory chocolate cake.

We’ve taken a look at how this digital dispute broke out, some of the best tweets shared and how you can look to harness the power of social media for your organisation.

It’s also vital that we point out, at Strand PR, all caterpillars are of equal deliciousness and we do not favour one over the other. Although, if we were pushed, Cuthbert might possibly get our vote.

 

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Bugs behind bars

No matter the occasion – birthdays, work promotions, random Tuesday evenings instead of actual dinner – Colin the Caterpillar, originally sold by Marks and Spencer in 1990, has been the nation’s go-to chocolate cake for over 30 years now.

While many saw the funny side when budget supermarket Aldi unveiled their own version of the cake, Cuthbert the Caterpillar, M&S’s legal team felt differently, lodging an intellectual property claim with the High Court. The multinational retailer claimed Cuthbert’s similarity to Colin led customers to believe the two cakes were of the same standard, accusing Aldi of riding “on the coat-tails” of M&S’s reputation.

Despite the serious claims that are being made against them, Aldi appears not to be taking the legal allegations particularly seriously, taking to Twitter with their own comical take on proceedings.

The social media marketing team at Aldi followed that up by posting multiple tweets digging at M&S’ decision to take legal action.

 

Power of a hashtag

While #FreeCuthbert was busy going viral, there was a limited response from the M&S social team. Meanwhile, Curly, Clyde, Morris, Wiggles, Cecil, and Charlie all remained out of the spotlight, despite also having a strong resemblance to the famous Colin.

Aldi soon changed tact, utilising the bolstered attention by way of a ‘raising money for charity, not lawyers’ initiative under another hashtag, #Caterpillarsforcancer. Inspired.

With a surge of support and praise from fans and followers the likes of Waitrose, Asda and Morrisons were quick to throw their support behind Aldi’s campaign.

This isn’t the first time that the Aldi social media team has used their platform to make light of potentially damaging press, with pub chain Brewdog previously drawing attention to similarities between respective beers that were being sold by the supermarket. Following a short-lived Twitter tiff, the two brands reconciled and subsequently announced a collaborative IPA together. This is, once again, showing the power of effective social media use for marketing teams to turn a potentially detrimental situation into a positive one.

 

So, what can we learn from Aldi here?

Some of our favourite tweets

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April 2021 | Megan Mower