A Leader in Style

Published: January 8, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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“This is President Barack Obama. Whether I’m facing the bitter cold of China’s foreign policy or the bitter winds on Capitol Hill, I can do it in comfort and style in my Weatherproof™ jacket. It’s rugged and waterproof, yet soft and comfortable.  

“So whether I want to get in touch with my inner Thoreau, or just discuss finance policy on the Capitol steps with my good friend John McCain, my Weatherproof™ coat is the perfect choice for my active lifestyle.

“I’m Barack Obama, and I did not approve this message.”

According to the Associated Press, “Outerwear companyWeatherproof™ used a recent news photo of the president in front of the Great Wall in Badaling, China, for the advertisement, with the tagline A Leader In Style.”

Apparently, when Weatherproof ™ President Freddie Stollmack recognized that the coat Obama was wearing in the photo was, in fact, made by his company, he had a brainstorm:  buy the photo rights, then create and buy ad space for “America’s Next Top Model.”

There’s just one problem: While Stollmack made sure to secure the rights for the photo taken by AP photographer Charles Dharapak, he neglected to ask permission from Obama or the White House to use the image of the president for clearly commercial purposes.

“He didn’t come to us. It’s just a great looking jacket on a great looking president,” Stollmack said.

The White House didn’t buy Stollmack’s pitch and has asked the company to remove the billboard because the ad misleads the public into believing that Mr. Obama approved the use of his image in the ad campaign.  White House policy disapproves of any use of the President’s name or likeness used for commercial purposes.

“We did this in good faith,” Stollmack said. “This is an image that we thought would enhance the president of the United States.”

“Enhance the president of the United States”? Give it up, Stolly!  You’re looking for an inexpensive and controversial way to sell coats and it worked!

It’s interesting to note that while the billboard owners accepted the ad, The New York Times, New York Post, and Women’s Wear Daily all rejected the ad.

In the end, Stollmack will accede to the White House’s request, but not after Weatherproof™ has achieved its sales quota.

“Meanwhile,” the AP said, “the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently debuted a new ad campaign featuring Michelle Obama – and also did not ask for the first lady’s consent.”

UPDATE: According to a report in the New York Times (Jan. 12), “The Weatherproof Garment Company… has agreed to take down the billboard after talking with the White House.”

“This ad is clearly misleading,” a White House statement said, “because the company suggests the approval or endorsement of the president or the White House that it does not have.”


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