Havaianas attempts to get its name in the dictionary

A campaign to get a popular thong brand name into the dictionary has launched online and through experiential activity at Sydney’s Customs House.

Brazilian brand Havaianas is looking to get its trademarked name into the Macquarie Dictionary by trying to prove it has become the generic term for a thong in the Australian lexicon.

The campaign was created by experiential agency Play Commnunication to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary.

Natasha Nikolovski, marketing coordinator for Play, told Mumbrella: “It’s about showing the brand is so iconic within our beach and fashion culture that it is more than a brand and is synonymous with summer and Australia.”

Through the microsite ihav.com.au and via a giant three-dimensional Havaianas logo set to tour major cities, the campaign launched first at Sydney’s Customs House with an experiential push.

Play will build the submission of words and photos from members of the public about what the brand means to them.

Shani Langi-Latukefu, MD of Play, said in a statement: “We really wanted to develop a campaign that showcased how Havaianas has become a staple in the Australian lifestyle. Havaianas is an iconic brand that is synonymous with the Australian culture, and we felt that would really resonate with consumers, and encourage them to support the campaign.”

Other brands to be included in dictionaries in the past include Hoover, which became a verb meaning to vacuum, and Speedo, a generic word for swimming trunks. Roll Royce has also been used to mean the very best of something.

This is the first Havaianas campaign by Play.


  1. Jason
    24 Oct 12
    1:37 pm

  2. But are the shoes iconic? I’m not sure they told us that enough times.

  3. Smoking Parrot
    24 Oct 12
    1:48 pm

  4. Maybe in Bondi this is true, but out here in the real world, what rubbish. Thongs are thongs. Major strategic insight FAIL.

  5. Mac
    24 Oct 12
    2:16 pm

  6. That’s great – a public announcement that their trademark for ‘Havaianas’ in Australia is no longer enforceable – so all thong manufacturers can label their products as ‘Havaianas’ without fear of legal action.

    Thanks Havaianas- that’s a gracious thing to do.

    So we are all free to use the following trademarks without restriction to label competing products – as it is simply a generic term for ‘thong’ in Australia :
    * TM# 840005
    * TM# 1112366
    * TM# 1178634
    * TM# 1326492

    Can we get a rep from HAVAIANAS here to comment on whether they are also releasing these trademarks as well?


    They seem pretty generic too … but perhaps it would be good to get their official comment on it to be sure.

    (I refuse to believe that any marketing professional would ever lie or attempt to deceive – so I have no option but to take them at their word.)

  7. Benster
    24 Oct 12
    2:17 pm

  8. Given Australians’ propensity to shorten names, why would anyone prefer a nine-letter brand name over ‘thongs’?

    (As an aside, this particular footwear is only ‘iconic’ in terms of the beach and camping ground showers – should be banned everywhere else!).

  9. NJK
    24 Oct 12
    2:23 pm

  10. This really works, provided the dictionary definition states: “Term used by urban wankers to describe overpriced footwear that are no different from the $2 double-pluggers worn by the rest of society.

  11. Sizzlers
    24 Oct 12
    2:26 pm

  12. Quite clever, I don’t think whether or not the dictionary picks the term up matters. The campaign should bring some timely awareness to the brand and strengthen their position as the leading brand in it’s category.

    To say its a FAIL would suggest you are missing the point of the campaign.

  13. MattB
    24 Oct 12
    2:33 pm

  14. Mac, excellent post. First thing I thought too. I think Havianas should have a chat with their IP lawyers before pushing on with this campaign.

  15. Elizabeth
    24 Oct 12
    2:39 pm

  16. They have to be applauded for their determination and for aiming high. The agency is trying to achieve a tall order for their client, good luck. I hate to be bearer of bad news but it’s not going to happen. I wonder if they have considered the potential negative repercussions if this quest fails? A bit embarrassing for the brand I would assume after taking on such a public campaign. Sure Havaianas are a common reference to thongs it is certainly nowhere near the ‘Band-Aid’ and ‘Glad Wrap’ territory, they have a looooong way to go before truly becoming part of the Australian vernacular, give it another 10 years guys and then re-evaluate.

  17. Ahhh...
    24 Oct 12
    2:43 pm

  18. should’ve got to them while they has the file open to update misogyny…

  19. Kiwi
    24 Oct 12
    2:53 pm

  20. They are not called thongs. They are called Jandals.

  21. Antonia
    24 Oct 12
    2:54 pm

  22. “synonymous with the Australian culture” …….isn’t Havaianas Brazilian?

  23. B
    24 Oct 12
    3:08 pm

  24. Mac….my first thought too. Aren’t people taught the value of a TM these days?

  25. Clint
    24 Oct 12
    3:11 pm

  26. I would have thought “Pluggers” is a little more synonymous with Aussie culture?

  27. mimi
    24 Oct 12
    3:14 pm

  28. Yes Antonia they ARE Brazilian…. based on a Japanese sandal design (the soles are designed to look like textured rice) …. Seriously who did the insights for this campaign??? Have you kids ever left Campbell Pde in Bondi????

  29. Larry
    24 Oct 12
    3:17 pm

  30. I think they may have jumped the gun just a little bit, oh and are slightly disconnected from the average Aussie, thong is way easier to say. Good luck.

  31. Oopsie
    24 Oct 12
    4:25 pm

  32. Oh dear. I think perhaps many of the people commenting on this blog are doing so from the pov of mainstream advertising, not experiential (which is what Play does). People at Play – correct me if I’m wrong – but I doubt very much that this campaign is about getting Havaianas into the dictionary. It’s about a campaign based on the idea of getting Havaianas into the dictionary. The objective of which is to reinforce that Havaianas has become a category in its own right. And along the way they’re creating the opportunity for consumer interaction with the brand and creating some talk. Looks like a job well done to me.

  33. Sizzlers
    24 Oct 12
    4:35 pm

  34. Exactly Oopsie.

  35. Elizabeth
    24 Oct 12
    4:38 pm

  36. Oopsie wouldn’t happen to work for Play would they?? haha

  37. Astro Turfing
    24 Oct 12
    6:45 pm

  38. Correct Oopsie, the good people at Play have done an excellent job with this well researched campaign! Havaianas ARE “a category in their own right.” Don’t take a “mainstream view”. People say “Hav-eee-aaahh-nahs” way more than “thongs.” In fact, Havaianas just sounds Australian.

    Getting nine letters in the dictionary is more of a challenge… don’t you see, it would be too easy and sensible to use “havi’s” or a term we actually use, like pluggers or thongs. Job… well… done.

  39. Susi Banks
    24 Oct 12
    6:57 pm

  40. They’ve got it arse-backward. Calling a vacuum cleaner a Hoover or a cooler an Esky came from THE PEOPLE. Not a marketing company…

  41. Dannyboi
    24 Oct 12
    9:09 pm

  42. Mac is spot on.

    Both Play and Hav’s have shown a shocking lack in understanding of Trademark law, regardless of how genuine the intention of the stunt.

  43. Jeff
    24 Oct 12
    10:29 pm

  44. “but I doubt very much that this campaign is about getting Havaianas into the dictionary. It’s about a campaign based on the idea of getting Havaianas into the dictionary”

    No, really.

  45. derrick
    24 Oct 12
    10:50 pm

  46. is it not the straps that are supposed to look like rice?

    either way, as has been said, this is not about it actually getting in the dictionary, its about trying to get it in the dictionary and the content and conversation that comes with it. just like Freeform applying to get a michelien star for crust pizzas – not going to happen, but fun to try

    good effort

  47. Bob
    25 Oct 12
    9:02 am

  48. I’ve never heard thongs called Havaianas…in fact I don’t even know how to pronounce it.

    I even had to copy+paste the name, cuz it was too much of a pain-in-the-ass to spell.

  49. I really like this
    25 Oct 12
    9:19 am

  50. it’s definitely generating talk.

    It feels fresh. It feels different. It feels like a Droga5 idea.

    I think we should all have another think about this before we get too negative.

    How else do you get rubber feet holders talked about? Obviously apart from giving the business to Droga5!

  51. Larry
    25 Oct 12
    9:30 am

  52. Astro, I’m sorry but as a bloke with half a dozen pairs or “Havi’s” in the closet i have never referred to them by anything other than thongs. Nor anyone else i know. I think you got this wrong.

  53. Scott
    25 Oct 12
    10:59 am

  54. When I read “Brazilian” and “thong” in the same sentence, I thought this was a completely different article. Shame Mumbrella.

  55. JackieChan
    25 Oct 12
    4:12 pm

  56. only east side hipsters pay $30-40 bucks for rubber thongs. Over