So by now you’ve probably heard that Kim Kardashian is suing Old Navy because they used a model in an ad that sort of looks like her. And the model, Melissa Molinaro, does, kinda, though I’m not sure how this can be established in a court of law. Measurements? Hair length? Perhaps phrenology will be involved. I have some concerns, given that if precedent is established then Rick Moranis will have standing to squash my nascent modeling career.
As far as court goes, I guess they can turn to Old Navy’s Facebook page:
(I cannot comprehend what marketing research is like in the age of Facebook.)
TMZ has an interesting—no, seriously, at least if you’re an intellectual-property junkie—update, in the wake of the news that Sears is soon to release a line of clothing from Kim Kardashian and her sisters called the Kardashian Kollection (the K is for Kwality):
We’re told Sears execs actually questioned if Kim was part of the Old Navy ads. The company feels the ad creates confusion in the marketplace and that happens to be exactly what Kim needs to prove to win her suit.
Which brings me to my broader point. Sears has, um, expressed interest in cutting a beneficial tax deal with the state of Illinois so it doesn’t set up shop elsewhere. Which I have mixed feelings about.
On one hand, it’s frustrating that bigger companies have more pull than the neighborhood places that make the city what it is (David Cay Johnston’s Free Lunch is a great book about this). On the other, usually someone’s going to offer something to get a big company to relocate, so I understand why cities and states concede for financial and political reasons. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, etc.
And if that’s the case, you might as well target companies with a promising future, and there’s some question about Sears’s future. Sure, there are "numbers" that "investors" look at to "analyze" those sorts of things. But I saw this and thought "the proprietors of the Kardashian Kollection want a tax break?" Consider:
Target: Designers Michael Graves, Isaac Mizrahi, Alexander McQueen (?!), Anna Sui, Stella McCartney, Jean Paul Gaultier, and many more designer collaborations
Sears: The Kardashians, LL Cool J, French Connection.
I have mixed feelings about large corporations getting tax breaks. They’re less mixed when said corporations seem to be trying.
Then again, I may be oversensitized. I have been told by a friend in the marketing business that I consume so much media I cannot be trusted to respond to advertising like a normal human being. Maybe normal people see Kim Kardashian and think, "She’s famous, I am interested in what she is selling," not "This makes me ineffably sad."
And, for months, there was a Kim Kardashian ad outside my office, which I passed several times a day, and after a while, it started making me actively depressed. Here she is shilling for Soylent Green; imagine it backlit and life-size:
(Like I said, I don’t respond to advertising like a normal person. But the intent seemed to be "drink melon liquor and be the life of the party!" and the execution, given the bemused expressions and defensive stances of the extras, is more "drink melon liquor and be oblivious to having stayed past your welcome." As someone with pretty severe social anxiety, it was like having a recording of nails on a chalkboard playing outside my office lobby for three months.)
Anyway, if the state wants to mark out a bargaining position, that’s where I’d start.