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Obama coat ad gets a chilly reception

Sat., Jan. 9, 2010, midnight

WASHINGTON – What goes up must come down, particularly when it’s a billboard in Times Square picturing the president in an advertiser’s overcoat.

Weatherproof Garment Co. was so thrilled to see a photograph of President Barack Obama wearing one of the company’s coats while standing atop the Great Wall of China that it paid for the image and slapped it on a billboard in New York’s highest-profile spot. The company has since agreed to remove the ad at the urging of an unhappy White House.

However, it appears that taking down a billboard is no easy task – it will take about two weeks, the company maintains.

Freddie Stollmack, president of Weatherproof, acknowledges that he heard from the White House about the ad. The administration doesn’t take kindly to companies peddling their wares by using images of the president, first lady or first children.

The company has agreed to cooperate.

The coat-maker says it needs some time, however, to devise a new ad campaign for Times Square and the Long Island Expressway, where Obama’s image graces Weatherproof ads with the line: “A Leader in Style.”

The company probably already has gotten its money’s worth out of the photograph, which it purchased from the Associated Press.

Advertising analyst Marian Salzman said she can’t recall ads like this featuring previous presidents.

“Look, the Obamas are more fashionable than anyone who’s been in the White House in years,” said Salzman, president of Euro RSCG Worldwide public relations. “Right now they’re the style setters. Look what he’s done for the BlackBerry!”


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