Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Coat ad using Obama's picture draws interest

NYT blogs the story here. Obama might be the only prominent celebrity so unlikely to act against this type of use of his image that the publicity isn't accompanied by substantial risk. Here's what the company's president has to say, somewhat disingenuously:

Asked whether he was taking a risk, he said, “Is it a calculated risk? Not being an attorney — I’m being, really, a designer, merchandiser guy in the apparel business — I would leave that to the attorneys or whatever. We’re not saying President Obama endorses Weatherproof apparel.”

“If we were to get a letter or a call from the White House saying they didn’t approve of it or they didn’t like it or whatever, or they see it as an ad, we’ll do whatever we have to do. We’re not looking to alienate the White House,” Mr. Stollmack said.


Anonymous said...

Isn't is illegal to use the image of the President, specifically, in advertising? I'm half-remembering an incident where a TV station got into trouble for running a promo/commercial for one of Ronald Reagan's movies, either while he was in office or shortly thereafter. (I heard about it in the mid-1990s.)

RT said...

There are prohibitions on registering a trademark using the president's name, but I don't recall a ban on all advertising using the president's name or likeness; and it's not in title 18 ch. 33, where most of the prohibitions on using official names/indicia in ads live. Nor would a ban that broad likely be constitutional. Protection, if any, would likely come from state right of publicity law; I haven't seen anyone cite a specific law even though Obama's team has made occasional noises. Obviously Obama, like anyone else, could stop false endorsements, and in the ordinary course a celebrity appearing in an ad is taken to be endorsing. But practically, the risks seem low, especially since Obama is vanishingly unlikely to seek damages as the average celebrity would.

Anonymous said...

I doubt the White House will bring suit, but I'd like to see Weatherproof pay punitives for this.

Anonymous said...

They moved the ad to the entrance of the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Real underhanded of them.