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Obama Ad Removed From Times Square

Filed under: General

This week we reported in Counselor PromoGram that the Weatherproof Garment Company, which supplies its apparel to the ad specialty market under the MV Sport (asi/68318) name, planned to remove a much-discussed Manhattan billboard following a request from the White House.

Well, according to the New York Times, the company has now agreed to remove the controversial billboard after discussions with the White House. (Click on image at left for larger version.)

According to the company’s reps: “Although Weatherproof believes that it had sufficient legal basis for displaying the billboard, it will be replacing the billboard in order to cooperate with the request of the White House.”

The image portays the president wearing one of Weatherproof’s jackets when he visited the Great Wall of China last November, and the company — like any company hoping to take advantage of publicity — seized the moment and used the picture in its ads.

According to a lawyer quoted in the New York Times’ article, “The legal framework for re-use of an image of a president is somewhat unclear, falling between publicity rights and the First Amendment.”

Anyway, this got me to thinking, is this really much ado about nothing? I really think Weatherproof could have fought this and won, but I digress. Take the following poll:


  1. Matt Browning Says:

    While Weatherproof might have had legal rights to use this in a campaign (I have no idea), I don’t think we need to start having our President being an advertising spokesperson for retail lines. That would really open a can of worms.

    Matt Browning
    Surge Promotions

    Friday January 15, 2010
  2. Vince Driscoll Says:

    Matt, that’s a great point. But my question is, why did Weatherproof give up so easily if there contention was that they had the legal right to use the Prez’s likeness? Was it just a stunt for publicity’s sake?

    Either way, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and Weatherproof comes out good either way. Kudos to them … they may have spent a lot of money for that billboard, but in the end they got some serious exposure.

    Friday January 15, 2010
  3. Tshombe Says:

    I agree with Matt. It also makes sense to comply with the legitimate claim that the advertisement “suggests an endorsement that does not exist”.

    I doubt that Weatherproof gave up so easily. They had specific discussions with the White House and decided to honor their request.

    I don’t think the question was whether they had legal rights in this case, as much as preserving goodwill with the White House. Who knows when they may need a favor in the future?

    Tuesday January 26, 2010
  4. Elena Says:

    Ok, I imagine the marketing strategy discussions went something like this:
    A) If we put up the billboard, and the White House doesn’t say anything, we get great exposure in Times Square.
    B) If we put up the billboard, and the White House calls us on it, we fuss a little, then notify the press that we are “voluntarily” removing it, thereby getting national and likely international exposure.
    Win / Win Big situation. No-brainer.

    Tuesday January 26, 2010
  5. Darrell Says:

    Maybe Weatherproof could have fought this and won but chose to find a better use for the funds then giving them to a law firm.

    Friday January 29, 2010

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