PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA
By HOLLY RAMER
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Lots of pop songs have hooks. This one has loops, too.
Velcro Cos. this week released a music video with a message it hopes will stick as well as its products: “Don’t Say Velcro.”
The video features actors portraying trademark attorneys, joined by a few actual lawyers in the background, pleading with the public to respect the company’s brand and refer to similar “scratchy, hairy” products as “hook and loop” fasteners.
“We’re asking you not to say a name we took 60 plus years to build,” the group sings. “But if you keep calling these Velcro shoes, our trademark will get killed.”
Velcro CEO Fraser Cameron said the video had been viewed more than 4 million times worldwide by Tuesday afternoon.
“We want people to know there’s a real company behind the brand folks know and love and that there’s a difference between Velcro brand products and others in the marketplace,” he said. “There’s only one Velcro brand. Everything else is just hook and loop.”
Velcro has its roots in nature. Swiss engineer George de Mestral came up with the design in the 1940s after studying burrs that stuck to his dog’s fur and his wool pants during a walk in the woods. He named his invention Velcro, a combination of “velour” and “crotchet,” the French words for velvet and hook.
Production began in France, but by 1958 operations had moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where employees marked the 50th anniversary of the company’s U.S. trademark in 2008 by lining up for more than a mile to rip apart 8-inch lengths of the company’s famous fasteners.
Today, the company’s global headquarters is in the United Kingdom, and its fasteners, found on everything from spacesuits to diapers, are made in seven countries.
“We’re in planes, trains, automobiles, commercial and residential construction, hospitals.
… It’s really everywhere,” Cameron said. “It’s really hard to go through a day without encountering our brand.”
Velcro’s patent expired in 1978, however, allowing competitors such as 3M to move into the market.
Penn Holderness, who wrote and directed the video for Walk West in Raleigh, North Carolina, said the goal was to make a ridiculous 1980s-style video in the vein of “We are the World” for what company officials acknowledge is a First World problem.
“Creatively, we wanted to come up with something that looked and felt melodramatic and serious, but also clearly admitting, as Velcro was willing to do, that this is a bizarre problem that a lot of people don’t know about,” said Holderness, who’s known for viral music videos featuring his family.
The song includes references to other successful brands that have become nearly synonymous with their products, with the name brands bleeped out: “If you need something/To clean up your socks/Do it with bleach/And not with (Clorox).” And “If you have blood/From a boo boo you made/This is a bandage/And not a (BandAid).”