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Enough Already! Chrysler Suing Local Clothing Company Over Imported From Detroit

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On: Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 12:39PM | By: Chris Weiss

Enough Already! Chrysler Suing Local Clothing Company Over Imported From Detroit

Chrysler has hit a hiccup in its otherwise seamless "Imported from Detroit" ad campaign. It seems like Chrysler isn't the only one in the city that wants to capitalize on the message. The automaker has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Detroit against Pure Detroit, a local clothing manufacturer. According to the suit, Pure used the "Imported From Detroit" slogan on its own t-shirts without any permission or licensing deal from Chrysler.

An excerpt from the lawsuit reads: "Upon seeing Chrysler's stunning ad, capped off by the powerful tagline, defendants immediately and opportunistically sought to usurp Chrysler's goodwill and exploit Chrysler's investment for themselves. They both copied Chrysler's tagline exactly and used it on some of the very goods for which Chrysler had filed a trademark application, clothing."

Listen, I understand the importance of trademarks and intellectual property, but this just seems like a far cry from Chrysler's message. Wasn't the whole point of the campaign about presenting an image of a struggling city on the rise due to fortitude, grit, and hard work? Wasn't it about the greater message, not about who gets the rights to prostitute the message in the form of $30 t-shirts? Shouldn't Chrysler be celebrating the fact that a local company picked up the message and ran with it? Clothing, after all, is a pretty effective type of grassroots advertising. Doesn't suing a small, local clothier—not to mention charging outrageous prices for its own clothes—kind of go against everything that the message was supposed to stand for?

Seeing as how the ad campaign is all about image, it seems like public opinion on that image is going to do a u-turn with headlines that equate to: "Massive Auto Goliath Stomps Small, Local Clothing Company In The Name Of Celebrating (Exploiting) Struggling Detroit." In simpler terms, Chrysler's really pissing on its message.

The BS involved in Chrysler's lawsuit and official writing on the matter isn't helping, either. "Goodwill"? It's a friggin ad campaign designed to sell your cars. Goodwill would have been to give the $9 million spent on the Super Bowl spot to Detroit-area charities—or to give all the profit from the sale of the overpriced clothing to charity as opposed to some unspecified token amount—the same unspecified token amount that Chrysler points to repeatedly in relation to the suit in a transparent plea to rescue its image.

To be balanced, Chrysler tried to work the issue out without suing, but Pure Detroit reportedly ignored them (perhaps thinking that the company would never sue them due to the potential image fallout). Chrysler tried to get the clothing company to stop selling the shirts and to donate some of the profits to charity, neither of which Pure Detroit went for.

At least one good thing will come out of this: a whole lot more people will know about Pure Detroit thanks to these headlines. And I bet sales of the t-shirts in question, whether directly from the company or via second-hand sale, will go through the roof. So I guess Chrysler really did do something for the rank-and-file of Detroit. Goodwill indeed.


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