Tony's Chocolonely Responds To Injunction: 'Let's Pay Farmers, Not Lawyers'


Tony’s Chocolonely’s use of a trademark shade of purple had Milka parent company Mondelez’s lawyers seeing red, so the chocolate brand is turning to shades of gray.

The issue in question stems from Tony’s use of the color in a campaign calling attention to child labor practices common in cocoa harvesting supply chains across the industry, producing a limited series of chocolate bars with widely recognized packaging design elements of well-known chocolate manufacturers.

Known as “Sweet Solutions” in the U.K. and “Fair Alternative” in Germany, the campaign included a bar imitating the popular Mondelez brand Milka, which led to copyright infringement claims by Mondelez, which obtained a legal injunction against Tony’s. The brand is appealing the injunction, while changing the offending shade to gray in the interim.



According to Tony’s, the campaign received a positive response from media outlets and consumers on social media. “Unfortunately, rather than engage in a conversation about the long-standing issues in the industry, one manufacturer has decided to take legal action against the campaign in Germany for trademark infringement by using the colour purple,” the brand said in a statement.

“Whilst Tony’s is appealing this injunction it is required to comply in the meantime by removing all Swiss purple bars and images from the market,” Tony’s Chocolonley said in a statement, adding, “look out for our new grey bars in the remainder of the campaign as we continue to raise awareness of the lack of living income wages in cocoa.”

Tony’s Chocolonely has built its brand around a mission of making “100% exploitation-free the norm in chocolate.” The campaign is not the first to call out competitors for what it views as a lack of initiative in tackling the issue, as the brand alluded to a similar 2021 campaign, during which “big chocolate makers put pressure on Tony’s retailers to remove the lookalike ‘Sweet Solutions’ bars because they didn't want to be associated with the claims of illegal labour in the chocolate industry.”

Its current campaign follows revelations late last year about Mars’ chocolate harvest practices in a CBS News report that found instances of child labor at remote farms in Ghana supplying coca to Mars.

Following the injunction, Tony’s changed related campaign materials to visibly declare the “Not Purple” color of the now-gray packaging, along with adding the message, “Pay farmers, not lawyers.”

“We’ve had to change our bar, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop raising awareness of the biggest problems in cocoa; a lack of living income, child exploitation and deforestation,” a representative for Tony's said in a statement sent to Marketing Daily. “We’ll continue to focus on our tried-and-true solution: sourcing beans through Tony’s Open Chain, according to Tony’s 5 Sourcing Principles. And that includes paying cocoa farmers a Living Income Reference Price. Tony’s Open Chain is open to every choco company, so they are welcome to join us.”

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