Idol Chatter

woodyallenbillboard.jpgRemember the Woody Allen billboard for American Apparel? Remember the lawsuit for $10M by the Woodman against the “vertically integrated” clothing company that indicated the billboard wasn’t in any way approved of by Woody Allen? Well, there’s a settlement, and AA will have to pay Allen $5M for the unlicensed use of his image.
But what was that billboard–and the resulting lawsuit– really about? Woody wasn’t wearing American Apparel clothing in the ad, and the ad was in Yiddish, and only appeared on two billboards, one in New York and one in Los Angeles. Mediabistro today shared a letter from AA CEO Dov Charney about what the billboards meant, why he feels AA wasn’t treated fairly, and why Woody Allen was wrong:

Along the top of the billboard were the words “Der Haileker Rebbe,” written in Hebrew letters. This is Yiddish for “the highest level, extra-holy Rabbi,” of which there is only one in the worldwide Hasidic Jewish Lubavitcher community. In Catholic terms, but from a Lubavitcher perspective, it would be like referring to Woody Allen as the Pope. Naturally this was intended as a satirical spoof and not to be taken literally. Posed as a riddle, the purpose of the text was to create a parallel between the sentiment of that moment in the film and what my company and I were experiencing at the time.

Charney is referring to media backlash over what he refers to as “the media fallout resulting from a few sexual harassment lawsuits.”

[…]The billboards were designed to inspire dialogue. They were certainly never intended to sell clothes. (And they didn’t. We recently hired a market-research company to determine the commercial impact, if any, of the billboards; they found they had no impact on anyone’s decision to shop at our stores.) This was not the first time we used a billboard for something other than to promote our products. Before and since we’ve used them to express social messages; including, for example, our support of immigration reform.

While Allen’s not likely to shop American Apparel anytime soon, Charney’s indicated (in this report in the Daily News) that this doesn’t change his view of the esteemed writer and filmmaker:

Charney said he remained an Allen fan despite the pricey settlement. I hope to meet Mr. Allen on more friendly terms,” he said. “I’m looking forward to his next film.”

Woody Allen at

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus