White House Asks Retailer to Take Down Ad Featuring the President

Last week, the White House asked Weatherproof to remove a Times Square billboard that featured President Obama wearing a Weatherproof jacket in front of the Great Wall of China. According to the White House, the billboard was misleading because it suggested that the clothing was endorsed by the President and that the White House had approved the ad.

The photo was taken by a photographer from The Associated Press and Weatherproof subsequently purchased the right to use the photo from AP Images. According to The AP, their agreement with Weatherproof required the company to seek any necessary clearances before using the picture. The company’s president, however, said he did not believe permission was necessary because the billboard did not explicitly say Obama endorses the jacket. News reports indicate that two newspapers and one magazine refused to publish the Weatherproof ad without evidence of the President’s approval.

Be careful about using an image of an individual for advertising purposes unless you have permission from that individual. Simply having permission from the photographer is not enough. If you use the image of an individual in an ad without the individual’s permission, you could face a lawsuit under right of publicity laws. Although the White House simply requested that Weatherproof remove the billboard for now , some companies have had to pay millions of dollars to settle these types of unauthorized or implied endorsement issues.