White House To Coat Company: Take Down That Billboard

A couple waits to cross the street in front of a billboard ad featuring President Barack Obama weari i

Not what the White House wants to see. Julie Jacobson/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Julie Jacobson/AP
A couple waits to cross the street in front of a billboard ad featuring President Barack Obama weari

Not what the White House wants to see.

Julie Jacobson/AP

Using any president's image in an ad is almost always a big no-no with the White House — whether there's a Republican or a Democrat in the Oval Office. Administrations don't want it to look like the commander-in-chief is endorsing a product.

The latest flap involves a coat that President Barack Obama wore when he visited the Great Wall of China in November, and the Weatherproof Garment Company's attempt to score some p.r. points.

Today, the White House tells The New York Times, it's going to ask the company to take down the billboard it has put up in Manhattan's Times Square.

"The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes," spokesman Ben LaBolt tells the Times.

The photo used on the billboard was taken by the AP's Charles Dharapak and Weatherproof Garment purchased the right to use it from the wire service — which says it's then up to the clothier to get any additional permissions.

Legally, the First Amendment may protect the company's right to do what it did. But having gotten the attention it wanted, the most-likely next step (based on previous such cases) will be for Weatherproof Garment to comply with the White House's wishes.

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