January 7, 2010
Given how Obama has altered the rules of the game when it comes to political vs. cultural celebrity and the branding of the president, I’d say the Weatherproof ad (and they did license the AP photo) is a case of back-atcha. (The backstory.)
And then, before one concludes it’s disrespectful or inappropriate for a savvy clothing company to use the President’s image to sell a jacket, I’d say corporate media has thrown that door wide open this past year — with Obama enabling them all the way. After all, hasn’t big media been bombarding the public with Obama’s image with all kinds of gratuitous fluff, not to serve any interest of news but instead to feed it’s own commercial interests and their own own brands? Along those lines, why should Weatherproof be excluded just because they’re in a different market niche?
And then, in response to the jacket affair, White House spokesman Bill Burton says the administration “has a long-standing policy against the use of Obama’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.” So, does that cover Michelle’s appearance this week, along with the White House Executive Chef, on the Food Network’s massively-promoted special White House edition of “Iron Chef America”? (In terms of the blurring of the lines, here’s the White House Chef even blogging about it.) Before dismissing the appearance as if it was a PSA for healthy eating (though hard to believe if you saw what Emeril and Batali did to those vegetables), I’m wondering just how big was that ad buy?
If there is anything to be learned here, it’s probably that the White House valets should be cutting the labels off of all new togs.
(7:45 pm PST – expanded)
(image 1: Weatherproof Corp. via AP. image 2: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)