The Weatherproof Garment Company, which supplies its apparel to the ad specialty market under the MV Sport (asi/68318) name, plans to remove a much-discussed Manhattan billboard following a request this week from the White House. Government aides frowned on the billboard, which features an image of President Obama wearing a Weatherproof jacket, arguing the ad suggests an endorsement that does not exist. “Although Weatherproof believes that it had sufficient legal basis for displaying the billboard, it will be replacing the billboard in order to cooperate with the request of the White House,” the company said in a statement Monday.
The billboard ad, placed in Times Square, shows an Associated Press photograph of Obama taken during a November trip to the Great Wall of China. When Weatherproof executives originally saw the photo they ordered a high-resolution image to confirm the jacket was made by the company. Then, according to the New York Times, Weatherproof paid the Associated Press for the licensing rights to use the photo. For a portion of last week, Weatherproof also added the billboard image to its Web site, advertising “The Obama Jacket.”
Since the billboard appeared, legal analysts who specialize in First Amendment and intellectual property cases have said there is no clear precedent for a case like this. However, Freddie Stollmack, Weatherproof’s president, recently said he would agree to take down the billboard if the White House made a formal request. In an interview with the Times, Stollmack said Weatherproof was “not looking to alienate the White House” by running the ad.