6 - What’s in a name? Unilever vs Hampton Creek Foods
By Elaine Watson
- Last updated on
Which brings us to Unilever’s infamous lawsuit against Hampton Creek Foods...
In the complaint, filed in New Jersey on October 31, Unilever accused the firm of falsely advertising its egg-free spread as ‘Just Mayo’ on the grounds that 'mayo' is short for 'mayonnaise', and mayonnaise must be made with eggs (according to a federal standard of identity). By marketing an egg-less product as mayo, Hampton Creek was causing “irreparable harm” to Unilever's Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand and the category as a whole, added the suit.
But the move prompted a tidal wave of bad PR for Unilever, which made an abrupt u-turn on December 18, issuing a statement praising Hampton Creek's 'vision' and withdrawing the lawsuit, coupled with a carefully worded statement about how Hampton Creek should now "take the appropriate steps" to "address its label directly with industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities".