Primary File

Technical Foul: Congratulating Michael Jordan

Mike Schechter, Janell Kurtz
January 1, 2016
North America
Strategy & General Management, Ethics & Social Justice, Marketing & Sales
3 pages
appropriation, publicity rights, first amendment, business law, marketing, Advertising, ethics
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.7)
Average rating: 

To celebrate the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the grocery store chain Jewel-Osco was considering an advertisement in a commemorative edition of Sports Illustrated magazine. The proposed advertisement featured basketball shoes, the number “23,” and a short paragraph that wittily included a phrase similar to Jewel-Osco’s tag line. Jewel-Osco did not have Michael Jordan’s permission to use his name or number. The proposed advertisement posed legal and management dilemmas for Jewel-Osco. A celebrity such as Michael Jordan has publicity rights to control his image, but the First Amendment gives broad protections to the right to speak; and our society values the ability to discuss, comment, and share newsworthy events. Should Jewel-Osco run the congratulatory advertisement?

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Explain the legal rights and restrictions on the use of someone’s name, likeness, image, or other distinguishing characteristic in advertising, covering the right of publicity, appropriation, First Amendment freedom of speech, trademark, and copyright law.
  2. Examine the legal approaches used to determine whether a business’s use of a person’s name, likeness, image, or other distinguishing characteristic is acceptable. 
  3. Formulate a plan designed to minimize the risk to a business considering the use of a celebrity name, image, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic in a business announcement, advertisement, or other use.