OK, Post, Go Get a New Name

Seriously, just pick something else. Anything else.

While reading my pal Cabel’s recent look at a wide assortment of snacks, I came upon the following:

Ok Go! Cereals
I only bought this because Post is in the middle of a lawsuit with — surprise! — the band Ok Go, and I thought this was my one chance.

Two small cereal containers, with the brand name “OK Go!”[Photo credit: Cabel S.]

Readers of this site may know that I’m a fan of OK Go, and I’ve posted about them several times over the years (2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2010). Despite that, I had entirely missed this story of corporate malfeasance. I immediately went looking for more information, and landed on a helpful Variety article. It included a good overview of the issue at hand:

Trademark fights turn on the concept of “likelihood of confusion,” which can dilute the power of a trademark. Courts analyze a series of factors, including the strength of the plaintiff’s mark and the degree of competition between the two products, in deciding whether consumers might be confused.

In its complaint, Post has asserted that there is no likelihood, because Post makes “high-quality, delicious cereal products,” while OK Go is a rock band. The band’s lawyers have countered that consumers will wrongly believe that OK Go has endorsed the cereal.

Trademarks exist on a spectrum of distinctiveness. Some trademarks are unique only in their industry, which is why we can have two very different types of Dove bars (soap and ice cream). A more fanciful mark like “Dasani”, however, enjoys far stronger protection in part due to how distinctive it is. Regardless of the product being sold, it would be foolish for any other company to try to use that name.

Thanks to their many viral music videos, OK Go, the band, is fairly well known in America. Further, though it consists of just four letters spread evenly across two words, the phrase is certainly not common in any other context. Put another way, if I had seen the above-pictured product organically, I would immediately have wondered if the band had some affiliation with it.

Lead singer Damian Kulash spoke bluntly about the matter:

“It’s enraging… It seems like such cut-and-dry bullying,” said Damian Kulash, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, in an interview. “There are so many other things you could call your fucking cereal. Just pick one. Nobody looks good in this. Just pick a new name.”

Indeed, no one looks good here, but Post looks especially bad. In addition to looking bad for needlessly trying to appropriate a name from a small but popular band, the billion dollar company looks bad for another reason, one I only discovered after on a fortuitous click. The aforelinked article also includes this text:

Kulash argued that the band has spent decades developing a distinct image that many brands — including Post itself — have paid handsomely to associate themselves with.

If you click on that linked text, you’ll be taken on the same journey down a rabbit hole that I was. For me, it was like entering an entire alternate reality. Over a decade ago, there was supposedly a streaming service called “Bitbop”, of which I have precisely zero recollection.1 Before it was shuttered in early 2012, the service included a “Honey Bunchs of Oats Original” series called “Honey & Joy”:

A title screen from the web series “Honey & Joy”

All eight episodes are available on YouTube, and I gutted my way through a full 25% of the series for this piece. Please believe me when I tell you that the show is terrible. It is astonishingly bad, yet not bad enough to loop back around to the realm of so-bad-it’s-good. It is simply bad bad, and it should not exist. But apparently, exist it does! And on this show, which, apropos of nothing, features a character named “Dick Cutlet”, OK Go, the band, was paid to make a guest appearance.2

The group has literally been employed by Post to promote cereal! For the company to now attempt to sell a product under the name “ok go!”, without involving the band, is the height of foolishness. It’s even dumber than this god-awful show about which I was once so blissfully ignorant.

Please, Post. Just re-name your vaguely unsettling powdered milk cereal product. When you do, we can all go back to a world where your regrettable web series is once again forgotten.


  1. “Bitbop brings the best of TV to your smartphone, commercial-free!” ↩︎

  2. Their episode, number seven of eight, is archived here. You should not watch it. ↩︎