The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois ruled Wednesday that Jewel Food Stores did not have the legal right to use one of their own ads to publicly congratulate Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan on being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The court’s decision said the ad was blatantly commercial in nature, an assessment the supermarket chain had initially been able to argue against:
The ad’s commercial nature is readily apparent. It may be generic and implicit, but it is nonetheless clear. The ad is a form of image advertising aimed at promoting goodwill for the Jewel-Osco brand by exploiting public affection for Jordan at an auspicious moment in his career.
The story: Back in October 2009, Jewel Food Stores (also known as Jewel-Osco) ran an ad in a special edition of Sports Illustrated commemorating Michael Jordan’s induction into the Hall of Fame. The ad, which you can see here, contained a pair of shoes with the number 23 on them, the supermarket chain’s logo, and the following text:
After six NBA Championships, scores of rewritten record books and numerous buzzer beaters, Michael Jordan’s elevation in the Basketball Hall of Fame was never in doubt! Jewel-Osco salutes #23 on his many accomplishments as we honor a fellow Chicagoan who was ‘just around the corner’ for so many years.
Pretty harmless stuff, no? Jordan, however, disagreed and sued for $5 million in damages.
The case will now go back to the district court that ruled in favor of the supermarket chain back when the lawsuit was first filed.
Tags: Michael Jordan