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PETA launches new ad featuring Michelle Obama without First Lady’s permission

January 6, 2010 3 Comments »
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No strangers to controversy or effective marketing tactics, PETA has launched a new advertisement featuring Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Carrie Underwood and Tyra Banks.  One problem:  PETA never got permission from the First Lady for her inclusion in the advertisement.  PETA’s response to the mounting criticism is that PETA “wouldn’t have sought” Obama’s permission because PETA “knows” the First Lady “can’t make such endorsements.”  I use a series of quotation marks here to offset the littany of assumptions and conclusions that apparently went into PETA’s decision to use Michelle Obama without permission.  Respecting relevant intellectual property laws can be inconvenient, and it sure can get in the way of an effective marketing campaign.  Conversely, violating those laws can stir up a fair amount of media attention.  Perhaps that was the plan all along?  Here’s is a link to the story with an image of the advertisement:

3 thoughts on “PETA launches new ad featuring Michelle Obama without First Lady’s permission

  1. Jeff says:

    When is a likeness considered to be in the public domain and therefore obviate the need for a license agreement pursuant to a commercial product development? I read on that likenesses of politicians are the only likenesses in the public domain.

  2. jfaber says:

    Thanks for the question, Jeff. In fact, even politicians have a right of publicity that can be enforced, at least under certain circumstances. As such, it is inaccurate to assume that the “likenesses” of politicians are in the public domain. When the use involves an advertisement or commercial product, in most instances even a politician will have recourse through recognition of his or her right of publicity and related intellectual property interests. I hope this is helpful.

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