In Lawrence Wright’s new book “God Save Texas,” he begins his ode to the Lone Star State with a place that may be among the most Texan of all retailers – Buc-ees. That little beaver in the logo may be cute, but it’s got teeth. A lawyer for the roadside destination told a federal jury Tuesday that San Antonio-based Choke Canyon Bar-B-Q is using a similar cartoon critter in its logo to confuse drivers into pulling off the highway to shop at its travel stop instead.
Matt McCutchin, an advertising lecturer at the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations at the University of Texas at Austin, says the two logos – one a beaver, one an alligator – are more alike than different.
“There’s a couple issues kind of going on here,” he says. “One, obviously the legal arguments, and where those lines are between being able to copyright an animal. These seem to be very similar in look and feel because there are so many similarities. But I think there’s another issue, though, the bigger issue of why you would want to piggyback on an existing brand. Why wouldn’t you want to carve out your own space a little more?”
McCutchin says the aim could be to confuse people.
“In marketing, we will call it a borrowed interest problem,” he says, “where it’s trying to borrow something that somebody’s interested in and trying to reframe it in a different way or give it a different meaning for a different audience.”
That’s why Buc-ees is standing its ground, he says, by taking legal action to protect its iconic beaver.
Written by Jen Rice.