Cobain's image shamlessly used to hawk shoes, or a great ad campaign?

E! News - “Love Kicks Cobain Shoe Ad to the Curb” (w/ picture)

Summary: Doc Martens shoe company runs some ads in the UK displaying images of Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone, & Joe Strummer wearing their shoes. Courtney Love and some of the rockers’ fans throw a hissy fit, and the company pulls the ads.

The libertarian part of me really wants to say that anyone should be able to use dead celebrities’ images however they damn well please, without permission from anyone. As far as the legal aspect of this, the article had this to say:

And if what this rep says is true:

Then that’s a good and cute idea for an ad, quite frankly, and they have every right to run it.

But on the other hand, if Cobain et al.'s fans and those close to them feel that it is an inappropriate use of his image, then who am I to judge? Maybe they’re right. What is your take on this? What would you do if you were Doc Martens?

My understanding (from a story I read earlier–can’t find it now) is that DM never ran the ads, and in fact never even approved them. This was a campaign someone at the ad agency created to pitch to them, and it got leaked in the process.

I’m not the most dedicated Ramones fan in the world, but I would think that Joey and the gang would be more likely to wear basic sneakers.

That right there if I had any legal standing or ability would lead me to do everything possible to block the ads.

Likewise. Showing them performing or hanging around while wearing the shoes is one thing. Showing them as angels wearing the shoes? Ick. That hits the “glamorizing rock star death” and “sleazy dead celeb exploitation” buttons at the same time.

Punch myself in the head for considering this idea. :stuck_out_tongue:

I think a dead celebrity’s estate should be able to control the use of the celebrity’s image. I also think that REAL rockers would be happily rocking out in the version of Hell shown to us by 1980s heavy metal album covers, not wussing around on some clouds.


They ain’t singin’ for Pepsi.

I’m not a fan either, but I know the Ramones usually wore sneakers- most sources say Converse, although some say Keds. Kurt Cobain wore Converse a lot.

I thought it was sacreligious when Nike used “Revolution”. I came to realize that it’s all about the money AND keeping the music alive. Maybe someone will see one of those commercials and get turned on to Kurt’s stuff…can that be bad?

There was this other rock star who used to wear Doc Martens all the time–with his boiler suit. Pity he didn’t get an endorsement deal with them, considering all the high-profile gigs he played. I think he wears jogging shoes with lots of cushioning onstage now. Helps with the aching knees, you know?

Pope John Paul II wore white Docs.

If you think I’m making that up, you’d be mistaken.

Why is that a Libertarian sentiment? Why would Libertarianism disallow classifying a person’s image as a tradeable resource?


Hmm, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s more of a liberal sentiment? I don’t think I should have to get someone’s permission, especially a dead peron’s relatives’ permission, if I want to use their image in my work. (I know the law may disagree with me here, it’s just a personal feeling)

Why do you say that? Because you don’t think Cobain would go to heaven, or are you just so fiercely atheistic that the thought of even the concept of heaven is too distasteful for you? I mean, it’s just a familiar dramatic setting, it’s not some way of foisting religion on people. I’m as non-religious as one can be, but I still recognize many elements of Judeo-Christian tradition/lore as interesting dramatic devices, including heaven, hell, devils, angels, etc.

Well, that isn’t as disturbing as Benedict’s red Prada shoes.

Right, but we’re not just talking about artwork here, we’re talking about an image used to flog a product. If you want to draw a picture of Cobain in heaven wearing boots, no-one will stop you.

I have no problem using Cobain’s image—or anyone else’s for that matter—in artwork and editorial material. But i think that if someone wants to use such a likeness for their own commercial gain in advertising and promotion, they should get permission from the estate. Corporations are like tigers when it comes to defending their own images, and their own copyrighted and trademarked symbols. I think they should be forced to respect the fact that a person’s estate can control his or her likeness for commercial purposes. I also think that there should be an expiry date on such likenesses (maybe 50 years after death), just like there is for copyright.