Manatt Advertising Chair Cautions Brands on Twitter Imposters
"Twitter Identity Theft Strikes Brand Mascots"Advertising Age
April 11, 2011 - Manatt’s Linda Goldstein, chair of the firm’s Advertising, Marketing & Media Division, spoke with leading industry trade publication Advertising Age on the proliferation of unauthorized Twitter feeds using the names and likenesses of well-known brand mascots.
Many of the most-loved brand mascots, the publication reports, from the Pillsbury Doughboy to Tony the Tiger, are on Twitter in some respects, but not in any official capacity. Everyday people not affiliated with the brands have picked up those familiar names and cartoon faces, as many marketers have left them idle.
Brands do not have much recourse when it comes to unauthorized Twitter accounts, the article says, other than to complain or set up a verified account. Twitter does not police user accounts, but does accept reports from individuals or companies. If people aren't making money off brands' character copyrights, however, marketers aren't likely to be able to claim legal damages for misrepresentation.
Regardless, Goldstein tells Advertising Age, "even if they are used for noncommercial purposes, I think it would be prudent for brands to be vigilant in protecting their assets because consumers might well believe there's some connection."
One reason why so few officially sanctioned brand mascots are online could be because the characters are highly controlled. Long, detailed marketing documents often dictate exactly what these cartoons can wear, say and do. But leaving these highly protected characters voiceless in social media has opened the door for the public to drag these highly guarded brand characters into dicey territory.
"This is something brands should want to police," said Goldstein. "This kind of activity could result in tarnishing of the brand."
Read the article here.