Sainsbury’s may claim to have “renamed” the fish Pollack to “Colin” but legally it’s not allowed to.
Though the new packaging for the fish is not illegal – because it mentions that it is, in fact, Pollack inside – some of the claims the supermarket made in the media this week have raised eyebrows at the Food Standards Agency.
Sainsbury’s says it had “appointed a panel of experts to give the fish a complete makeover”. This included new packaging designed by Wayne Hemingway and “giving the species a new name”.
However, by law, the supermarket cannot rename a fish species unless it applies for approval through the FSA’s own panel of fish experts – the committee makes the decisions on new name proposals for fish based on whether it could be misleading or not.
“At the moment, the fact that the top of the pack mentions that what’s inside is
Pollack means it isn’t misleading shoppers,” says an FSA spokeswoman.
Legal or not, branding experts are divided over the Supermarket’s stunt. Some say it fits neatly with the supermarket’s emphasis on ‘interesting things to do
with interesting ingredients’. Others say the exercise “undermines the marketing industry”.
“At a time when people are looking to the likes of Sainsbury’s to be trustworthy and credible, this move is a bit flippant. It feels like a joke, rather than a serious marketing move,” said Cheryl Giovanonni, European President at Landor.
Felix Velarde, Managing Director at Underwired, said that rename mania was gripping the industry, citing examples such as Sci Fi to SyFy “for no apparent reason”.
“Sainsbury’s renaming a fish so it no longer sounds like ‘bollock’, to something that sounds like ‘colon’ seems similarly sense-free. Might as well paint Sainsbury’s blue and call it Tesco, though that will no doubt happen of its own accord at some stage.”