Woody Allen does not like endorsing commercial products. He never has.
So why would American Apparel think that plastering a picture of Allen on their billboard would pass muster with the neurotic filmmaking genius?
Not sure, really. But its definitely giving AA some free publicity.
The billboard only ran in New York and LA and featured Allen dressed as a Hasidic Jew from the movie "Annie Hall" Above the picture was Yiddish text that translates to "the holy rebbe," along with the words American Apparel on the bottom.
As far as advertising the actual product goes, its a pretty lame ad. The words are in a different language that majority of people don't understand and the image has absolutely nothing to do with the product line. But a billboard like this is not meant to be literal, just eye-catching.
Well it definitely caught the eye of Mr. Allen, who is now suing the uber-trendy, tragically hip clothing line for $10 million in compensatory and unspecified punitive damages.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit accuses American Apparel of "blatant misappropriation and commercial use of Allen's image" and notes that the company on its Web site promotes itself as one known for "provocative photography."
If you have ever seen any of American Apparel's other ads, you know that "provocative photography" usually means partially exposed anorexic, underage models, wearing makeup that makes them all look like heroine addicts. The images always look like the photographer was using a disposable camera to take the picture. There is definitely a certain style to the ads and the creative team probably works very hard to make them look like snapshots in someones scrapbook collection of sexual conquests.
AA claims that these are not models, but actual employees. Sure they are! They are all carefully selected employees that match the ideal image that the company wants to portray. You are never going to see the 50 year old Mexican seamstress with the hairy mole on her cheek or the 40 year old janitor that mops of the floors of the bathrooms. Only the 16 year old assistant to the creative advertising director who looks like she just woke up from a Tuesday night gang bang.
In a nutshell, American Apparel is the same crap they sell at the Gap, but with better marketing.
So it's interesting that AA would cross a line and use an image of Woody Allen without permission, knowing that they were going to get in trouble for it. It looks to me like they knew this was going to be an issue and are just milking it for the free publicity they are getting out of it.
We'll see if anything happens with this and report back.
As always, stay tuned.
Billboard photo courtesy: Boris Fishman