Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Re: BSA uniforms in Advertisement
Re: BSA uniforms in Advertisement
Settummanque, the blackeagle
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 15:10:15 -0500
Jessica Walton (my honies, btw...Hi Honies!) wrote and asked:
>This is a good question, Martin. Wonder what BSA reaction has been in >the
past to the use of their "image" and specifically, their
>"trademarks/copyrights" in the past?
The BSA's reaction in the past has been extremely strong, and varied from
letters sent from the BSA's Risk Management (and before that, their Legal
Counsel) Division directly to the company or firm giving them the change to
pull the ad or billboard or display before the BSA takes further action...to
outright legal suits filed in court which were quickly settled in the past.
The BSA also has ALLOWED some organizations and firms to use the BSA
uniform, and Scouts or Scouters in uniform, for products in which the BSA
benefits. Examples have been the Johnson and Johnson first aid kits,
BSA-brand uniform and outdoors goods (Coleman, Remington Arms, I forgot who
made the dress shoes, but Converse tennis shoes).
In exchange for the display of Scouts and/or Scouters wearing/using the
items, the BSA receives a slight benefit.
(I know what it sounds like...and it could be perceived as such)
Recently, we've talked about The Money Store, a financial services company
and their ad featuring a patrol of Scouts along with a male leader in
clearly BSA uniforms. The Money Store was sent a letter from the BSA's Risk
Management Division asking that their ads be pulled, explaining the
non-commericialization policies of the BSA. If you are still seeing them,
this could be seen as a snubbing of the nose by The Money Store, and the
BSA's Risk Management Division should be notified, with a date, time,
station call letters or cable channel, and city and state in which you saw
the ad. They will take it from there.
We've also talked about USAA (United Services Automobile Association, I
believe it stands for), a financial services and insurance firm based in San
Antonio, Texas (and which we, along with thousand of other military officers
and now non-commissioned officers receive insurance and banking services
through) and their promotional ad featuring a Life Boy Scout in full field
uniform along with the rest of their family. USAA also received a letter
from the BSA, and has pulled their print ads and even have sent an apology
through their firm's publication as well as to the BSA.
In most cases, Jessi, the firms that do this kind of thing does so
innocently and without thinking that the BSA owns the rights to those
wearing their uniforms and displaying their insignia in all forms. When
they are confronted, either at the local Council level (because of
eagle-eyed volunteers or keen-seeing professionals) or from the National
office, they quickly remove the ads and photos and images and wait to
receive official permission to use the image or item. In most cases, if the
product or service is consistant with the BSA's positive image, the BSA will
permit a limited use of the image by the firm. In some cases, because of
the perception that the BSA is "in agreement" or "feels that it's okay" with
the product or service, the BSA refuses to allow its program to be used in
that way. Sometimes we go a little too far with it.
An example of this, is the singer Axl Rose and his group Guns n Roses.
He and his group showed up for a concert in Texas (of all places) in 1993
wearing one of the BSA's older uniforms, with the patches and insignia still
intact on the shirt. The BSA saw footage from the concert, contacted the
singer's manager, and threatened to sue if he appeared on stage wearing a
BSA uniform again. Then, after it was determined that Rose went that day to
a Salvation Army store and purchased the uniform shirt, the BSA went the
extra step to write to both Sal Army and Goodwill asking for their
assistance in not selling BSA uniforms and insignia any more and to forward
uniforms to local Councils for redistribution. Many Sal Army and Goodwill
stores have done this, which had the additional effect of reducing the
availabilty of older uniforms to Scouts and Scouters that cannot afford a
All in all, Jessi, the BSA does a great job defending itself against those
that want to use the uniform or insignia for purposes not consistant with
the aims and methods of the BSA. And yeah, they do defend their right to
this restriction and permission very strongly...it's how the BSA is
portrayed to the public that in a large part is responsible for how the BSA
can raise monies, organize new units and gain new members -- things needed
for future growth!
Hope this all helps!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
Joint Information Bureau Deputy Director
US SOUTHCOM FCE (Enhanced New Horizons)
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