Obama is weatherproof. His image isn’t.

Have you heard the one about a company trying to use the image of the most powerful man in the world for an ad? Without asking for his authorization?

No?

Then you need to see this. Weatherproof Garments Co. found a pic of Obama wearing one of their jackets, and apparently that was enough for them to put it on a billboard in (where else?) Times Square. Read the note from the New York Times here.

In their defense, the did pay for the right and use of the picture from The Associated Press, but it was their responsibility to secure the corresponding authorizations prior to posting it in the most visible place in the advertising world.  This company tried a similar stunt earlier by offering a Weatherproof jacket to the famous Naked Cowboy in New York. It didn’t work out but the attempt made it to the news and I guess that was as good as succeeding for them.

Earlier this week, the image of Michelle Obama was used by PETA to promote their fight against the use of fur.

Whether Obama is for or against the noble cause, is beyond the point. They didn’t ask for her authorization either.

So, maybe there is a trend of “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission”-type of advertising. And it could be very effective in generating a lot of buzz, but also a lot of lawyer hourly fees.

I have seen this practice happening all over the world by small companies, with local advertising. But not in the good ol’ U.S of A. At least, not without facing the legal consequences.

Hey, if you have a chance for using known music, images and icons like MJ, Jagger, and even Darth Vader to promote fluorescent light bulbs or the best donuts in town, why not, right? Apparently not even the Obamas are safe now. Related note.

In a way, it’s pretty cool if you think about it because this could be a side effect of the democratization of advertising, as opposed to what YouTube is doing with it’s “violation of Copyrights Policy”.

If normal people feel entitled to use whatever image or music to communicate their ideas or emotions, it’s only normal to think that companies could act the same way. Let’s discuss this with our lawyers.

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