Okay, this has nothing to do with music, rock and roll, etc. But it is important, and it’s a great read, perhaps one of the most important pieces of journalism that I have read in the past few years. And fuck it, I’ve got the power to post this here, so I’ll abuse that power. It’s the nature of power to abuse it, right? Coca Cola thinks so, anyway. And that’s what this article is about. So for something totally off topic, go to Guerrilla News and read this article.

It’s long and it’s complicated; it concerns copyright law, covert oprerations by the CIA, bribery of judges in Chicago, and about a dozen other issues, most formidably that Coke has been screwing a single artist whose pop can designs they stole in 1989. Force yourself to read through the whole thing, it’s well worth it. And finally, thanks to Pat for digging this one up and forwarding me the link.

4 thoughts on “SPAM!”

  1. Sounds like his case rests on two things: 1. that coke stole his ad idea, and 2. that he inadvertently retained the rights to coke’s marketing logo because they let the rights to it slip. That’s weak and insanely difficult to prove in court unless you produce a witness (from within coke’s leadership) and a healthy dose of physical evidence (memo’s, writen directives, etc.)

    As an example I’d suggest the Michigan native who proposed the “psycho chihuahua” idea to Taco Hell. If you look at his visuals and web site info it looks nothing like their now defunct Chihuahua campaign. Go figure that a pseudo mexican fast food chain might use a Chihuahua in it’s visual marketing. His arguement fell apart in court because his concept was just too different from Hell’s final advertisements. (Although, an appeals court has just agreed that he has a right to an appeals hearing….so who knows).

    This Coke guy will have the same problem. Just because coke puts a stylized image of a contour bottle on their cans doesn’t mean HE has a right to 2 billion dollars of their revenues. It’s obsurd. The contour bottle is a hundred years old and has been recycled in various forms by Coke since it’s inception. The idea that they have to pay him to use their own images is pretty thin.

    That being said, he’s screwed and tatooed having to go to court in Chicago. Phew! The only thing worse might be trying to prove your inocense while being held in an Indonesian prison. My guess is that he’ll get nowhere through the courts, not because the chicago courts are ‘dirty’ (which I’m sure they are), but because his case is weak.

    That’s a heck of an article though!



  2. Actually, I think that’s the crux of the case. He HAS proof that Coke lapsed in their copyright filing in 1993 (not 1989, when it was due). The fact that the actual documents from the Copyright Office are dated 1993 is enough.

    That Coke used his designs is the weird thing. As an independant consultant he should have had a non-disclosure agreement with Simon Advertising and he should have pitched part of the campaign, not the whole thing. I’m no expert on the subject, but my limited experience has taught me that much. The fact that he handed over the original storyboards is also pretty dopey. I think just about anyone growing up in America has a healthy dose of paranoia when it comes to corporate dealings and he should have been a bit more careful.

    But all of that is beside the point. I find it fascinating that Coke could be found fraudulent in their Copyright application AND that they may have been illegally collecting licensing fees for the likeness and logo. That on top of their possible SEC filings that fail to acknowledge a pending suit that certainly would affect their bottom line and you’ve got quite a story of corporate shenanigans. I doubt the old guy will take down Coke but it does show how tangled up the media is in corporate dick sucking that it hasn’t ONCE been reported in the mainstream press. Imagine what kind of shit is going on in the music business.

  3. I forwarded this link to the editor of Ad Age, which just happens to be published (in Chicago) by the same corporation that my alter ego works for. He responded by saying that it was “intriguing” and said that they’d look into it. We’ll see…

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