Michelle Obama for PETA

Low-Risk Free Press for a Cause

On Dec. 28, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released an ad campaign featuring Carrie Underwood, Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama as “Fur-Free and Fabulous” — without Obama’s consent.

Even though PETA’s ethical practices may have been questionable, it was a brilliant move from an economic standpoint.

According to prominent branding consultant Derrick Daye, using the First Family in ad campaigns presents little risk and a huge upside. Companies aren’t afraid to use unauthorized photos of the Obamas, as the White House doesn’t exactly have time to sue over such trivialities.

President Obama, too, was recently featured in a Weatherproof Garment-brand jacket on a billboard in Times Square. While the company had to take it down, its sales have gone through the roof.

More and more ad campaigns are hopping on the Obama bandwagon — and with evidently so little at stake for the companies in question, it’s a trend that won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

— Cheryl Hori

Associate Opinion Editor

No Need to Ruffle Our Feathers

To understand why the White House is upset about Michelle Obama’s unauthorized photo release in the latest PETA campaign is easy — no one shouldn’t take anyone’s mug shot and plaster it on a product without consent.

But as it turns out, Mrs. Obama herself released a statement last year declaring her wardrobe fur-free. So despite PETA’s stupidity in surpassing basic endorsement protocol in its promotional photo, the commotion surrounding the breach of privacy rights is completely overblown.

There’s been no twisting of Obama’s stance on the use of fur — so even if PETA didn’t get Obama’s official OK, there’s no reason for such an uproar. If anything, Michelle is furthering a cause without lifting a finger.

—Kelsey Marrujo

Senior Staff Writer

PETA’s Ad Technique Is Childish

Using unauthorized images of public figures for promotional purposes might be growing in popularity, but that doesn’t make it any less troublesome.

Although Michelle Obama happens to support PETA’s cause, her disapproval of fur in this case hardly justifies the use of her approving face-stamp without permission. On top of that, PETA is only distracting from its message with shady practices.

Last May, American Apparel agreed to pay director Woody Allen $5 million after he sued the company for using his image in two promotional billboards. Allen argued that by using his image without his permission, the fashion retail chain was obstructing New York’s right-to-privacy law — and sure enough, it paid off.

Just because Obama won’t have time to deal with this ridiculousness, PETA’s sneaky branding isn’t any less arrogant — and only more unfair.

— Yelena Akopian

Senior Staff Writer

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