Tesco using Wicklow coat of arms for advertising. Wicklow County Council couldn’t care less

The Irish Times had a front page article yesterday which was highlighted by CheapEats.ie about Tesco. In a nutshell, the report states that suppliers are being asked for money to have their products stocked on the shelves of 119 stores countrywide.

Suppliers are afraid to go on record for fear of, presumably, action by Tesco that would impact their ability to get their products on their shelves. These are Irish suppliers employing Irish people (the same as Tesco), and yet they appear to be using their dominance to bully suppliers. The article states that other big multiples are guilty of similar practice but on nowhere near the “scale and breadth” of the Tesco demands.

Economist Jim Power has called on the Competition Authority to investigate. He said what Tesco is doing :

“cannot be allowed to happen because it will destroy an important strand of the fabric of Irish society. Irish suppliers cannot be pushed out of the market as part of the Tescoisation of society. There’s a difference between what’s not illegal and what’s not in the best interests of our society.”

Kieran Murphy of Ice Cream Ireland blogged about Tesco moving to reduce Irish brands from their shelves to make way for own brand and imported products. It’s well worth a read and shows a level of concern we all should have about supermarkets in general and Tesco in particular.

When I open the local newspaper and see ads by Tesco with the County Wicklow coat of arms it really makes my blood boil. They use the coat of arms on a billboard in Wicklow town as well.

TescoWicklow

I contacted the County Secretary of Wicklow County Council asking whether Tesco had sought permission to use the coat of arms. After a tortuous round of emails back and forth to the council (they don’t believe in acknowledging receipt of emails or replying unless pressed a second time) they basically came back with

I wish to reaffirm with you that Wicklow County Council did not have to provide Tesco with permission to use the Crest in their advertisements as this is not the Wicklow County Council Crest.

This, despite the fact in a conversation I had with the Chief Herald’s Office they said that Tesco using the coat of arms for advertising wasn’t appropriate use.

After the short shrift email from the County Secretary’s office, I decided to make a phone call. It was quite clear from the tone and manner of the person I spoke to that I was simply an annoyance.

“The county secretary doesn’t have an issue with this”.

My reply : “But this is coat of arms of County Wicklow and shouldn’t be used by commercial interests like Tesco. The Chief Herald of Ireland agrees with me.”

“Well, you’ll have to take it up with the Chief Herald”.

“But Wicklow County Council are granted use of the coat of arms by their office, so that’s why I’m talking to you”.

At this point, frustration resulted in my voice being raised as there was simply a refusal to acknowledge or to take ownership of the issue. I was told that “I’ve spent enough time on this and the county secretary has given you an answer, I’ve got other work to do.”

I asked to speak to the County Secretary but he was “in a meeting”. I was then told to “send a letter”… At that point you know you’re being given the runaround.

So there you have it, the county secretary of Wicklow County Council has therefore decreed that it is OK for the likes of Tesco to use the history and heritage of County Wicklow to make themselves look more Irish and commited to local suppliers, when in fact the Irish Times has uncovered their dirty little secret.

4 comments

  1. Why doesn’t that surprise me??

    Typical example of the country we live in and the people that are in charge of running it…

  2. There is no such post as County Secretary anymore! That disappeared under “Better Local Government” in 2002.
    The crest shown in the advert looks similar to the Wicklow Co Co crest but it’s not the same. It doesn’t have the motto “Meanma Saor” and the church-like building is not the same. So that’s probably why they are not interested – because Tesco could rightly say that they are not enfringing the Co Cos right to the logo.

  3. Odd that in my conversation with the council, reference was still made to the County Secretary. Bit of a moot point though.

    And yes, I know the crest shown is not the Wicklow CC crest. I contacted the council on basis that I assumed they would have domain over the county crest which was used. They, clearly, are only interested in anyone using the Wicklow CC crest.

  4. I assume that all county crests are in the public domain, I would also assume they are not copyright or trademarked (and if they were it would have expired by now). This would be the same way you couldn’t stop a company using an Irish flag in their adverts.

    Most sport clubs (GAA, Rugby) now use a custom trademarked crest on their gear so they can charge extra for club gear and jerseys to the public. I remember when Munster Rubgy changed from the generic three crowns of the Munster province crest to their custom Stag crest. It was mainly to stop Dunnes and others from creating red t-shirts with the generic Munster crest on it, and so they could charge the public €70 for it.

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