ROME — The Coca Cola Company has taken legal action against producers of a spirituality themed Italian film set in present day Israel in which Jesus drinks a can of Coke in the desert.
In the desert, near the biblical Emmaus, the Italo ad man gives Jesus a ride on his Jeep, hands him a Coke, and, while Jesus is quenching his thirst, says: “My God, what a testimonial!”
Coca Cola in a letter complained to producers Graziano Prota and Angelo Sconda demanding that the scene be cut because it is likely to give Coca Cola a negative image and complaining that use of their brand was unauthorized.
Techdirt sums up the situation and warns of absurd dilution of “fair use”…
As you watch companies and lawyers try to expand the meaning of trademark protection well beyond what it’s supposed to do, you start seeing all sorts of ridiculous actions.
Take the latest example, pointed out by Justin Levine about Coca Cola forcing some movie makers to stop the release of their film, because officials at Coke were upset that a character in the movie drinks a can of Coke.
Why wouldn’t Coke be happy about this bit of product placement?
Perhaps because the character is supposed to be Jesus (though, again, it’s not clear why this is a bad thing). Either way, imagine if movie makers had to license the rights for every product that was used in every movie?
Imagine if any company could block an entire movie because they didn’t like how their product was shown in the movie.
Ford used in a car crash? Banned.
A Boeing 747 crashes into a hillside? Banned.
Bad guys using Dell computers? Banned.
Someone shot by a Colt .45? Banned.
Fat guy sits in an Aeron chair? Banned.
After all, if trademark owners really can dictate how their products are used in movies then perhaps we’ll never see real products used in movies again. Well, except for the product placement slots they pay for. Those will still be allowed.