Technical Foul: Congratulating Michael Jordan
Mike Schechter, Janell Kurtz
January 1, 2016
Strategy & General Management
appropriation, publicity rights, first amendment, business law, marketing, advertising, ethics
Journal of Critical Incidents
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?