“Yes We Brand!”

Originally posted 2009-01-31 19:56:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Bloomberg News reports that “my generation”‘s President is every bit as thoroughly modern as you’d expect.  In other words, no unauthorized drawing down of his icon-equity will be permitted:

White House lawyers want to control the use of the president’s image, recognizing the worldwide fascination about Obama’s election, First Amendment free-speech rights and easy access to videos and photos on the Web.

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.

“I can’t remember this ever happening to an active politician before, as a spokesperson or as an image for a brand,” said Brad Adgate, director of research for Horizon Media Inc., a New York-based advertising agency.

Yes you can, Brad!

Oops, sorry.  The article continues with a decently thorough examination of the issues, quoting IP lawyer Jonathan Band as saying:

“It will be difficult,” Band said. “Because he is the president of the United States and there was this campaign and everyone’s proud, I think the First Amendment will be applied much more broadly with respect to people wanting to use an image of the president than it would be with typical entertainment figures or sports figures.”

Sure hope so.  Band continues:

The use of Obama-related images also may involve copyright issues and various state laws about the ability of individuals to control commercial exploitation of their likenesses, Band said.

Good work, Jonathan!  I also appreciated this grace note — a little perspective:

Appropriation of a president’s face and voice, to a large degree, come with the territory, said Princeton University historian Fred Greenstein.

“It’s par for the course,” he said.

Yes… but then again, these days, “IP management” that infringes on free expression and free enterprise is also “par for the course.”

I sure hope the Obama White House doesn’t get carried away with itself on this — either on its “policy” on the use of President Obama’s brand equity or on appointing judges who could possibly agree with such restrictive and essentially antidemocratic views.” Can we handle any more of those?  No, we can’t.

Oops, sorry!

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Author:Ron Coleman

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7 Responses to ““Yes We Brand!””

  1. February 1, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    I appreciate this writing. For me, attending the inauguration was a melange of pride and an inability to escape my (current) second year of law school. The glut of “presidential” merchandise was shocking. Seems like there are copyright issues (w.r.t. given photographs of our President), and Right of Publicity issues (w.r.t. our President’s likeness). But I wonder about copyright, because any government-produced photographs of our President would fall in the Public Domain. Could this mean that the only protection our federal executive could receive comes from state-law rights?

  2. James H
    February 2, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    The article gave the distinct impression that the Obama team was also zeroing in on people using campaign themes of hope and change. Excuse me. Hope ™ and Change ™ …

  3. February 2, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    Can you spare some change?

    Traditionally, presidential images have been considered public-domain. Lots of ad campaigns have used caricatures of various presidents without requiring anybody’s permission. In February, around Presidents’ Day, images of Washington, Lincoln, and sometimes other presidents abound in promos for various merchants’ sales. Sometimes the various dead white males (some, but not all, of them past presidents) featured on U.S. currency are made use of in commercials talking about how much money one can save or earn through use of the products or services being advertised. Local car dealer ads sometimes do various celebrity voice parodies that have sometimes included caricatures of recent presidents.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ron Coleman - January 31, 2009

    LIKELY / CONFUSION “Yes we brand”!: Bloomberg News reports that “my generati.. http://tinyurl.com/a9sate

  2. Morris Singer - February 1, 2009

    More on IP issues facing use of our President’s likeness. Of course, there’s already a glut of merchandise produced. http://bit.ly/3Aki7a

  3. The Moderate Voice - February 1, 2009

    Around The Sphere…

    Our linkfest taking you to sites of varying viewpoints. Links do not necessarily reflect the views of TMV or its writers.
    “My Name Is Barack Obama and I’m copyrighted!!”

    How Will The Obama Administration Differ From The Bush Administ…

  4. A cease and desist letter… from the White House? « Arbitrary & Fanciful - February 2, 2009

    […] from the White House? Jump to Comments A number of news articles and commentators have noted that the Obama Administration plans on enforcing the President’s trademark and/or publicity […]

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