Cape Town - 111221 - Wollworths is being accused of imitating Frankie's Cola products with their new design. - Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Michelle Jones

The debate about whether giant retailer Woolworths unfairly poached small company Frankies’ range of retro cooldrinks has had social networks and dinner party conversations buzzing.

A Facebook page, “Petition to Woolies to stop faking Frankies”, is gaining popularity and the Twitter hashtag #frankies has trended on and off throughout the week.

Frankies, a small KZN Midlands-based company, sells drinks including Fiery Ginger Beer, Cinnamon Cola, Old Style Root Beer and Original Cream Soda under the straplines “Olde Soft Drink Co” and “The taste of yesteryear”.

Woolworths sells all of these drinks, in similarly retro packaging, under the strapline “Good old-fashioned”.

Frankies owner Mike Schmidt has complained about the Woolworths product range to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

He told the Cape Times the Woolworths range was “strikingly similar” to his own and was “misleading the public”.

“They must come up with an original idea. I definitely would like to see them remove the phrase ‘Good old-fashioned’ because that is creating confusion,” he said.

Woolworths hit back with a statement which said Schmidt’s allegations were unfounded.

“We have not infringed any copyright, intellectual property or registered trade mark,” Zyda Rylands, Woolworths’ managing director of food, said.

She said an old-fashioned drink was not a new concept, and added that Woolworths had used a “nostalgic or vintage design concept” for years in various products.

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