AT&T Drapes A Disclaimer Over “Blanket” Commercial

Apparently, quite a number of people have noticed the similarities between the work of artists Christo and Jeanne Claude, and this commercial of AT&T entitled “Blanket.”

Now, Stuart Elliot The New York Times reports that AT&T is adding a disclaimer to the end of the spot.

Last week, after receiving from a reader an e-mail message asking whether the commercial “pays homage to — or is a ripoff of — the art installations of Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” this reporter contacted a spokesman for AT&T. The spokesman was asked to comment about the similarity of the concept in the commercial to art projects by Christo and Jeanne-Claude like “The Gates,” which festooned orange fabric throughout Central Park in February 2005.
The spokesman, Steve Schwadron, who works for the Fleishman-Hillard public relations agency, replied with this statement: “The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had and have no direct or indirect affiliation or involvement with the creation of AT&T’s advertising.”
The statement that was provided by Mr. Schwadron has now been added to the commercial. It has been superimposed onscreen at the end of the spot.

A good move. But if agencies had to put disclaimers after every spot that had some art influence…well, there’d be a helluva lot of disclaimers.
There are plenty of YouTube videos of “The Gates,” the art installation in question. Here’s one:

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About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.

  • Anonymous

    This was a moment of opportunism in the ad world- AT&T would surely not have chanced this if Jeanne Claude, the public voice of the partnership had not recently passed. Surely if the appropriation had flowed in the other direction, the advertiser would not (and have not in such past instances) hesitate to bring the matter to court. This is an embarrassment to the companies involved and an insult to the artists and I hope charges of intellectual property left are brought before AT&T and the ad is removed.

  • ARAZ

    AT&T Shows its True Colors
    There can be no doubt that AT&T and agency art directors are familiar with Christo’s work. Whatever one thinks of that work, it is unquestionably iconic and part of popular culture. For a mega-company to exploit that “borrowed interest” (ad-speak) without acknowledgement or cooperation of the artist shows how nasty they are. It’s not about the money. It might have been a boost for public art and AT&T’s image. Instead, they post a legal disclaimer and show that they still don’t inderstand why this makes them look bad.

  • cheryltex

    Of course they were influenced by the artist’s work. Isn’t that what all artist want — to influence culture? Since they have always tried to keep their work free of commercial influence, would they have taken credit anyway? How many products have been sold using the work of the great masters? This is recognition for Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The fact that so many have recognized the similarity shows how many their art has reached. BTW– Traveller’s has a red umbrella commercial, are they guilty of infringement? Or maybe Target ripped off the guy who first drew a bullseye.

  • Sue

    Mimickery is the greatest form of flattery,

  • George

    If AT&T had used a song without the artist’s consent they would have been sued for royalties. Why is this any different? Sorry, AT&T using the artist’s concepts without any consent is deplorable. Too bad, the images are quite striking.

  • Leni.Marie

    Hi.. This commercial with inspiration (so it’s been thought) comeing from Christo and Jeanne-Claude, MAY or MAY NOT BE the Case.
    Remember how AT&T MAIN Color is/was Blue and ORANGE? when they bought out Cingular, the CiNgular MAIN color was ORange.
    I agree the resemblance of Inspiration is there, and It may not be the Inspiration at all.
    Just wanting “COVERage, “ALL OVER” ” Doesn’t that make some sense as to How they got to the final concept?
    that’s about the conclusion I come to.