Brand Obama: Clothes company Weatherproof uses picture of President on giant Times Square billboard
(DAILY MAIL) A giant-sized photograph of Barack Obama is being used without permission as a presidential pull to shoppers on a Times Square billboard.
Outdoor clothes company Weatherproof used a recent news picture of the president in front of the Great Wall of China for the advertisement, with the tagline ‘A Leader In Style’.
Deputy press secretary Bill Burton said that the White House has a long-standing policy that disapproves of the use of Mr Obama’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.
In the image, Mr Obama stands alone in a strike, rugged pose.
Weatherproof president Freddie Stollmack said he first saw the picture in a newspaper while Mr Obama was on his trip to China in November.
His coat look familiar, so Mr Stollmack got out a magnifying glass and found is brand’s logo.
The picture was taken by the Associated Press, and the clothes company bought the right to use it in an advert.
But Weatherproof did not seek permission from the White House, and does not believe it was necessary to do so as the billboard does not claim Mr Obama endorses the product.
It is unclear whether the White House can prevent companies from using the President’s image in advertising campaigns.
Mr Stollmack said: ‘He didn’t come to us. It’s just a great looking jacket on a great looking president.’
It comes after anti-fur group PETA came under fire for using Michelle Obama’s image in a new campaign without asking her permission.
The clothing advert is likely to prove a hit with shoppers because both the President and the First Lady carry considerable fashion credibility, according to Dudley Blossom, chairman of the marketing department at fashion-focused Lim College in Manhattan.
But it also risks passers-by getting so caught up with the image that they won’t notice the brand name, he said.
Mr Blossom added he could not recall any previous president being used in this way to sell a product.
Mr Stollmack said he thinks the White House should congratulate his company for making Mr Obama look so good.
He said: ‘We did this in good faith. This is an image that we thought would enhance the President of the United States.’
He added that although another advertising company had accepted the billboard, the New York Times, the New York Post and Women’s Wear Daily had all rejected a similar advert for their newspapers.
The anti-fur poster features an image of the U.S. First Lady along with presenter Oprah Winfrey, singer Carrie Underwood and supermodel Tyra Banks, under the slogan ‘fur-free and fabulous!’
The image that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has used of Mrs Obama is from her first official White House potrait, taken in February last year.
Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, confessed the organisation had not asked for Mrs Obama’s permission to use the portrait.
She said it was because she knew the First Lady could not officially endorce an anti-fur campaign advert.
However, PETA insisted it had used her image in its Washington advertising campaign based on White House confirmation that she does not wear fur.
The new adverts featuring Mrs Obama will appear in Washington’s Metro stations, magazines and PETA’s website.
Shortly after he took office last year, the White House launched a crackdown on ‘Brand Obama’ and insisted on control over the merchandising free-for-all in the wake of his inauguration.
Toy company Ty Inc renamed two popular Ty Girlz beanie babies dolls after it had initially called them ‘Marvelous Malia’ and ‘Sweet Sasha’ after the Obamas’ two daughters.
Ty Warner, chief executive of the company, said the dolls were not intended to bear the likeness of President Obama’s daughters, but said he decided to change their names in deference after Mrs Obama said it had been inappropriate.