Start-up Launches Blog to Fight Lawsuit

Posted by Connie Reece on May 23, 2020 at 12:17 am

[cue soap opera theme]

Stay tuned for As the Worm Turns . . .

Plants Love Worm PoopBeing a certified brown thumb, I seldom pay attention to happenings in the lawn and garden market. But a friend brought my attention to the fact that industry giant Miracle-Gro, which has close to 60 percent market share, has sued eco-friendly startup TerraCycle, whose business consists of harvesting worm poop and packaging it in plastic bottles recycled by schools and charities. That’s right: worm poop. Says so right on the label. Vermicomposting, the New York Times says, is the more formal term.

The lawsuit claims that TerraCycle’s product labels are deceptively similar to Scotts Miracle-Gro because they feature green and yellow colors with circles and photos of plants and vegetables. Hmm. Even without my reading glasses I don’t have any trouble telling the two products apart.

Miracle-Gro vs. Terracycle

Another part of the lawsuit involves TerraCycle’s claim that plants prefer organic rather than synthetic food-a claim TerraCycle says is supported by a scientific study, but which they have refused to release.

I’m sure the respective corporate lawyers will don their pin-striped suits and duke it out in the legal arena.

What’s particularly interesting to me is that TerraCycle has chosen to take the battle to the court of public opinion: their in-house PR/marketing team has created a blog that presents the lawsuit as an epic David-and-Goliath battle. They have posted copies of all the legal pleadings, documented over 100 other plant food products with green and yellow labels, started a legal defense fund with a “donate now” button, and even created a comparison chart of the two companies and their CEOs.

My guess is that the driving force behind the lawsuit is the fact that TerraCycle, dubbed “The Coolest Little Start-Up in America” by Inc. magazine in 2006, can now be found on store shelves alongside Scotts’ perennial money maker at Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Target. Why else would a $2.7 billion company take such aggressive action against a comparatively tiny company with a paltry $1.5 million in sales?

Now, I have yet to drink the Al Gore-flavored, globally warmed Kool-Aid, but I do recycle and I support green initiatives. And even though I can’t grow a plant to save my life, I have a hunch that these worm poop proponents are on to something big. I’m also genetically wired to root for the underdog, so I admire the chutzpah of the young company’s marketing team in taking on the industry leader in the blogosphere.

How do you think it’s going to play out? Will the strategy of publicizing the lawsuit and branding itself “Sued by Scotts,” as the new site is named, work in TerraCycle’s favor? Can the David of the plant food world bump off Goliath with a mere blog?

Jump in with your two cents’ worth.

Category: Public Relations, In the News, Blogging

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Comment by Karen

Made May 23, 2020 at 9:22 am

Personally, I hope the worm-poop guys win. I have a compost pile on the ground in my backyard and I personally feed my worms each day.

Miracle Grow is nothing more than common synthetic fertilizer so I don’t see how the two compare. It sure does look like the chemical guys are trying to squash out the movement for the more organic stuff.

Comment by Lisa

Made May 24, 2020 at 3:26 pm

You know, it would be a lot less costly if lawyers tossed the pin stripes in favor of sweats and just wrestled like little boys and girls. Or better yet, why don’t they just talk themselves to death or see who faints from fillibuster first?

The toxic giants are running scared. Even the stuff that gets outlawed here, we find markets for in other countries. Now that’s sick.


Comment by Connie Reece

Made May 25, 2020 at 3:54 am

Okay, we’ve got two votes from a couple of SOB’s (successful and outstanding bloggers) for the worm poop producers!

And I’ve got an idea for a new product to market to lawyers: pin-striped boxing trunks and sweats. :-)

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