Aldi has offered Marks & Spencer (M&S) a truce over their caterpillar cakes legal spat, suggesting they work together to raise money for cancer charities.
M&S has lodged an intellectual property claim against Aldi over the trademark of its signature Colin the Caterpillar cake. M&S hoped Aldi would remove its product, Cuthbert the Caterpillar, which it argues “rides on the coat-tails” of Colin’s popularity.
The iconic chocolate cake, which has remained practically unchanged since 2004 and merited several seasonal adaptations, is protected by three different trademarks. As several other supermarkets now sell spin-off caterpillars, M&S maintains “we want to protect Colin, Connie and our reputation for freshness, quality, innovation and value”.
Since the news of M&S’s claim, Aldi has gained support for Cuthbert by taking the legal battle onto Twitter. Aldi’s first provocative Tweet on April 15 read: “This is not just any court case, this is…#FreeCuthbert.”
The tweet had received 1,076 comments, 10.3K retweets and 74.4K likes, a significant increase in engagement compared to Aldi’s posts in the preceding days, which attracted below 3,000 likes and less than 30 comments.
The hashtag was immediately trending with a multitude of tweets and memes mocking the situation. These included a photo of Cuthbert sitting for an interview with Oprah and a video of the supermarket caterpillar cakes with a voiceover of the Jackie Weaver zoom call – both comically depicting M&S in the wrong,
Aldi successfully took charge of the narrative and significantly directed publicity to its cake. Other supermarkets have similarly involved themselves, by posting photos of their own caterpillar cakes in disguise.
Buzzfeed joined the conversation a day after Aldi’s initial tweet, commenting “waiting for the 10-part @NetflixUK documentary 😆,” which has prompted several retweets with prospective titles for a legal drama on the caterpillar cakes. Aldi followed suit by tweeting “@JudgeRinderTV How’s your diary looking? Asking for a friend. #FreeCuthbert’. Judge Rinder replied ‘The Court is ready @AldiUK”.
On April 16, Aldi continued the drama by posting a photo of Cuthbert behind bars, captioned “packaging update. #FreeCuthbert”, as well as “Marks & Snitches more like. #FreeCuthbert”. Aldi also took care to mention other supermarkets’ lookalike caterpillars, tweeting “Cecil, Wiggles, Curly, Clyde. We got you. @Watirose @Sainsburys @Tesco @Asda #FreeCuthbert”.
After five days of social media sparring, Aldi has asked for Colin and Cuthbert to be friends. The tweet announced Aldi is bringing back a limited edition of Cuthbert to raise money for both supermarkets’ cancer charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Teenage Cancer Trust. An hour later Aldi reached out to Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and the Co-op, suggesting all caterpillar cakes should join forces to fundraise together.
Aldi’s new fundraising suggestion has not concluded the drama, though. After tweeting ‘let’s raise money for charity, not lawyers #caterpillarsforcancer”, M&S responded: “Hey @AldiUK we love a charity idea (Colin’s been a BIG fundraiser for years). We just want you to use your own character.
“How about #kevinthecarrotcake? That idea’s on us…and we promise we won’t do Keith.”