Sherlock Holmes Would Be Proud

Our client, a specialty food producer, wanted to start a marketing battle against its biggest competitor in a region where both companies did business that was heavily populated by the companies' target consumers. Our client wanted to gauge the size of the competitors' business to see whether it was biting off more than it could chew. There was no commercially available information about either company because both were privately owned and much of their products were sold in small ethnic markets that did not use cash register scanners to capture consumer purchasing data which is compiled and sold by companies like Nielsen Reports. The Food Lawyers® were asked what could be done to gauge the competitor's size.

We interviewed the client intensely and determined that all of the companies making the product in question shared two common factors. First: They all received one key ingredient by tanker truck that offloaded all of its contents at a single location rather than dividing it among several customers. Second: All of the companies in this sector had a certain byproduct hauled off premises in a specific type of truck. With this information, we surveyed the area surrounding the competitor's only plant. It was located in a seedy part of the city's industrial sector with a shabby motel sitting across the road from the plant's only gate to the street. The Food Lawyers® directed private investigators to rent a second floor room in the motel that had a bathroom window overlooking the competitor's main gate. They shot video footage of the main gate 24 hours per day for two weeks. The private investigators were discrete in moving their video equipment into and out of the motel so that no one knew what was being done.

Anyone has an absolute right to film what is visible from a public road, so what we were doing was 100% legal.

The client's Chief Operating Officer reviewed the video footage and accurately gauged the competitor's sales by counting the number of tankers delivering the key ingredient and the number hauling off the byproduct. This empowered our client with the knowledge that it should not undertake the marketing battle. At our recommendation, our client relocated its main gate to a place where the same video strategy could not be carried out against it.


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