Yellow Pages is “Not Happy Jan”

The iconic Yellow Pages advertisement featuring the well-known phrase ‘Not Happy Jan’ was briefly resurrected and modernised by chocolate company Darrell Lea to relaunch its products in Australia last week. The remake was short lived, with Yellow Pages issuing a cease-and-desist letter.

The Darrell Lea remake closely follows the original, including featuring actress Deborah Kennedy reprising her role as the angry manager. However, instead of yelling after her assistant Jan, she calms down by taking a bite of Darrell Lea chocolate. The classic phrase “Not happy Jan!” is instead “No worries Jan“. This change reflects Darrell Lea’s motto that chocolate ‘makes it better’.

The similarities between the two advertisements caught the attention of Yellow Pages’ parent company, Sensis, who subsequently issued a cease-and-desist letter to Darrell Lea, its advertising agency Akkomplice, and major television networks.

In an official statement, Sensis said that although they were flattered Darrell Lea used the iconic Yellow Pages advertising, it had done so without consultation or approval. Sensis further stated Darrell Lea’s use of the beloved characters to sell chocolate was misleading to consumers. This was clear given a number of people on social media believed Yellow Pages had endorsed the advertisement.

After receiving the cease-and-desist letter, Darrell Lea immediately cancelled the advertisements and said they will be ‘sending a big box of chocolate’ to Sensis.

The news is an essential reminder to companies and advertisers alike that copying (without approval) may not be acceptable flattery.  Further, when creating advertisements they need to ensure they are not misleading or deceiving consumers.

If you ever have concerns, please contact Belinda Sigismundi of our Intellectual Property team.

This article was written by Belinda Sigismundi, Principal Lawyer – Commercial and Emma Berry, Lawyer – Commercial.