Legalities of Brand Usage in Spec Spots Questioned


Television commercial director and photographer Paul Papanek who, a few years ago, directed a couple of spec spots recently received several letters from Coke's in-house and out-of-house legal councils informing him he used Coke's logo without permission. His spots have been featured on his websites as well as on The Spec Spot and Boards Magazine. Each of the three letters Papanek received were increasingly threatening with the last one, dated August 15, informing him he must remove the spots from all the sites within 14 days or suffer nastier legal ramifications.

While Coke is well within their rights to protect their logo and brand, Papanek, writing in the WheresSpot Yahoo news group, wonders about the implications of Coke's request. Papanek cites the common practice of directors and production companies producing spec spots to promote their businesses, build their freelance careers or to pitch new business and wonders how this might affect spec creative. We wonder if new businesses pitches and creative reels will now be required to have logos digitized out. The two spots in question can be seen here and here. Papanek has commented and posted Coke's letters here.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (7)     File: Brands, Commercials, Policy     Aug-30-05  
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Convert (digitally) the imagery to Pepsi, or some other competitor... and be done! I fail to see this lawyers assault as more than a make-work project for their fee's and retainer... Forgeting completely that, as you said, the imagery is *very* pro-Coke. Frankly, with Coke's response, these spec's are TOO good for them. Switch. And keep us in the loop...

Posted by: jace anderson on August 30, 2005 12:25 PM

Both those spec ads are better then anything I have seen COKE do in a long time. They should be delighted that someone is giving them free ideas (both quite different in scope and imagery) and promoting their brand. Paul Papanek, send them an invoice, see how that grabs them, laf.

Posted by: Bucky on August 30, 2005 01:21 PM

Thanks for we spell it WheresSpot

Posted by: Perry Schaffer on August 30, 2005 02:06 PM

Although Coke is being a little heavy handed in this, Paul should at least note the work as spec. Clients often give work based on previous experience, not on ideas. Paul has given the impression that he has worked with Coke, which amounts to lying on his CV.

Posted by: jackson10 on August 30, 2005 02:10 PM

If (the brand mentioned) is so adamant about this perhaps they should start paying taxes on the value of media space given to them in the form of PR. These guys are right in there with the blockheads at (name of large express pacakage delivery company here) who used the press to get more coverage by threatening a creative's use of their packages. Maybe we should all quit drinking Cocaine and pick up a pack of Pepsicola. Anyone recall the days when Olympia beer encouraged creative ad submissions and actually ran them? Jesus, Coca Cola, get a life!

Posted by: Geoff Bush on August 30, 2005 04:43 PM

Great ads. Why would coke be in such a spin? Does this mean that no one is allowed to parody other brands.

Posted by: Robert on August 30, 2005 06:02 PM

Can't see brand loyalty and consumer created content when it smacks them in the face and clobbers them over the head?
Esther, call of those lawyers and create a site of consumer created
Coke love. Start with posting Paul's spots.

Posted by: owen plotkin on September 2, 2005 10:26 AM

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