The Indian street food brand has decided to create some Christmas cheer out of a cease and desist from frozen food giant Iceland

Original Indian street food and craft beer multi-branch independent, Bundobust, has gained a huge following on social media over the years, racking up almost 60 thousand loyal fans on their Instagram page alone. 

The brand isn’t only adored for its incredibly delicious and authentic beers and street food dishes (all hail vada pav) but for their hilarious, game-changing marketing methods, too. 

Always quick to jump on trends, Bundobust’s social media team have us howling at their witty memes and hot takes on topical subjects.

However, one festive post shared on Instagram on 26 November has left the brand in “hot water” with frozen food chain Iceland, who quickly responded with a cease and desist letter that wasn’t very, erm, Christmassy.

We’re turning what was a funny - but little bit scary - situation, getting such a strongly-worded legal letter into something really positive for Christmas.

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A snippet of the letter Bundobust received from Iceland Image: @Bundobust/Instagram

The post, which received over 2000 likes and was shared frantically amongst followers, promoted Bundobust’s new Christmas menu and sported a festive platter box mock-up. Under the guise of ‘Spiceland’, the fake platter used a design and font that looked very similar to the 900-store retail giant’s branding, but was clearly just a joke.  

“Obviously, we wanted to promote our Christmas specials on social media and we were just having a little think about how we could do that more creatively,” said Sarah Hardy, Marketing Manager at Bundobust. 

“We came up with a few different campaign ideas around those classic things you associate with Christmas then adding the Bundobust specials onto that. We did a post about our specials as Christmas films and which ones they would be.

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"We also did one that kind of riffed on the Argos catalogue asking people to circle their favourites,” explained Sarah, adding “We go talking about how during the Christmas holidays people like beige buffets, frozen platters and stuff. So we thought ‘Let's mock up what it would look like if we did a Bundo Combo for 4 as a sort of buffet box.’”

The original post quickly gained traction on social media as the Indian restaurant’s followers shared it with their friends as a bit of Christmas fun, before the daunting letter from Iceland was received and the post had to be taken down. 

“It was the most successful out of all the Christmas nostalgia posts we've done. We knew we were sailing a little bit close to the wind, but it's clearly not a real product. It's just a joke.”

Sarah said the letter from the retailer was “many, many pages long” and had “arrows pointing to the bits of the design that were too closely linked” to the brand.

“We've written to them to say that we've taken the post down and we won't use the Spicewood logo in that format again with the Iceland logo,” she explained. In true Bundobust style, the team shared a blurred and cropped version of the letter along with an image of Jeremy from the Peep Show Christmas episode with the caption ‘It was a joke, Iceland. A Christmas joke.’ which, again, went viral.

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That wasn't very Christmassy of you, Iceland. Image: @Bundobust/Instagram

Thinking on their feet, the team at Bundobust realised that they could make something good out of a sticky situation. “We realised we wanted to do something charity-focused. Originally we thought to ask people to bring tins in from Iceland for us to donate to local food banks, but that wouldn’t really be practical in the restaurant, so we settled on a voucher system.

“If people bring in a £20 Iceland gift card, [Bundobust] will give them a voucher for a Combo for 2 to use in January or February. Essentially, they’re spending £20 pounds but getting £35-worth of Bundo credit.

“With the vouchers, they can actually buy what's needed as well. You hear stories of food banks being overwhelmed with pasta and stuff, but not the things they really need” said Sarah.

Bundobust will then gather up the Iceland gift cards and donate them to local food banks in the city of each restaurant. 

“We’re turning what was a funny - but little bit scary - situation, getting such a strongly-worded legal letter into something really positive for Christmas. So yeah, hopefully lots of people will do it.”

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An example voucher. Image: Bundobust

A post shared on Monday 12 December LinkedIn promoting the charity campaign read:

“Over on Instagram we've got ourselves into some hot water over creating a Spiceland Bundobust party platter graphic that flew a little too close to someone else's branding. 😉😉

We posted about our cease and desist and were completely overwhelmed by the response from our customers. We didn't expect it to resonate so much!

We thought we’d see if we could take everybody’s festive spirit and manifest it into something positive in aid of a good cause (our social media person’s ego is NOT a good cause).

SO! What we came up with is this: the Spiceland Swap Shop.

- When you come and eat at Bundo, bring us a £20 Iceland voucher (or more if you’re feeling charitable).

- We’ll give you a voucher for a free Combo for 2, redeemable in January or February.

- All the Iceland vouchers you bring in will be donated to local food banks.

You get a little treat in January, and you get to do your bit to combat food poverty at the same time. Win win!”

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Bundobust's Spiceland Charity Swap Shop

To take part, simply pick up a £20 Iceland voucher and bring it to your local Bundobust between Thursday 14 and Saturday 23 December in exchange for a Combo for 2 voucher. Vouchers can only be accepted with a receipt confirming a £20 top-up.

Follow Harley Young on X @Harley__Young

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