AMC ambushes Obama billboard for 'Breaking Bad'

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AMC ambushes Obama billboard for 'Breaking Bad'

Wed Jan 27, 2010 @ 02:22PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Ambush marketing has become so prevalent, we're now seeing ambush-ambush marketing. Consider the story behind AMC's recent ad promoting its "Breaking Bad" series.

In November, President Obama took a trip to China and was photographed sporting a Weatherproof jacket. The company decided to put up a billboard of Obama sporting the jacket in the center of Times Square in New York City.
Picture 13 

That bit of ambush marketing caught the eye of the White House, which contacted the company to express dissatisfaction that Obama's image was being used for commercial purposes.

Not to be outdone, AMC decided to create its own billboard, replacing "Weatherproof" with "You Got No Proof," referring to the show's main character (Bryan Cranston), who has turned to a life of crime.

Picture 14 

Pretty clever. Does Obama have a legal claim against Weatherproof? And if not, does Weatherproof have a claim against AMC?

Look for ambush marketing to ramp up in the coming months as the Superbowl, Winter Olympics and the World Cup take place. The NFL puts out guidelines for when the Super Bowl can be mentioned. Still, loopholes exist and trademark laws can be murky. Stay away from using a trademark, like AMC did, is Rule #1. Even that is often not enough. We can't wait to see what clever ambush campaigns advertisers try to come up with this year.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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