Monthly Archives: March 2014

FTC Claims High Ground In Complaint Against Nissan/TBWA “Hill Climb” Spot

By: Brian J. Meli

The spot was called “Hill Climb,” but it thrust Nissan Motor Company and TBWA Worldwide into full reverse when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) declared it deceptive and charged both the Japanese automaker and its advertising agency with violating federal consumer protection laws.

Naming TBWA as a party in its complaint was a significant move by the FTC, because it sent a clear message that the commission will continue to hold advertising agencies equally responsible for facilitating false or misleading claims when they know or should know that these claims contain material misrepresentations.

Why was this particular spot, which portrays a Nissan Frontier pickup truck racing up a precipitous sand dune to rescue a buggy, singled out in a competitive category loaded with sensational and over-the-top messaging?

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Italian Government Goes Ballistic, Claims U.S. Gun Ad Infringes Its Copyright

David-rifle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Brian J. Meli

Say what you will about copyright law, it can lead to some seriously entertaining (and absurd) disputes.

Take this week’s news story about American gun manufacturer ArmaLite Inc.’s use of an altered image of Michelangelo’s David in an ad promoting its .50 caliber AR-50 assault rifle. In the ad (reproduced above) the famous renaissance statue is depicted cradling the high powered rifle instead of its signature slingshot; a weapon which, had David had actually wielded it, would’ve allowed him to fell most of the Philistine army before lunch.

The image has drawn harsh rebukes from the Italian government, and led to the Italian Culture Minister to call for the ad to be pulled, claiming: “an image of David, armed, offends and infringes the [Italian] law.” (loosely translated).

Really?

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Michael Jordan Goes One-On-One Against The First Amendment

Jordan

By: Brian J. Meli

When Michael Jordan sued Jewel Food Stores, purveyors of the Jewel-Osco supermarkets, for running a full page ad in Sports Illustrated (see above) congratulating the retired basketball superstar on his induction into the Hall of Fame, reactions from Chicagoans ranged from bewilderment to outright resentment. What could arguably the greatest sports icon of the modern era possibly gain by trying to squeeze a few extra bucks (by MJ’s standards) from a local supermarket chain that just wanted to celebrate his achievement? The ad, after all, wasn’t really an ad, so much as a printed tribute to a basketball legend. It was a symbolic gesture of local pride and support; not a shallow attempt at promoting a half-off sale on paper towels, Jewel maintained. Well, Jordan and his lawyers disagreed. They argued that an ad is an ad. And whatever its purported intent, this ad misappropriated Michael’s valuable publicity rights, which Jewel used to its commercial advantage.

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