Force against Powershop over Darth Vader image

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 15:45 08/12/2011
Darth Vader
Powershop
The offending image.

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Lucasfilm, owner of the Star Wars movies, has prevailed upon online electricity retailer Powershop to drop an advertisement featuring evil movie character Darth Vader.

In the online advert, Vader is pictured as a kind of Maria von Trapp figure from The Sound of Music. He is dancing across a field with mountains in the background and carrying a guitar case.

Lucasfilm's lawyers said they had been instructed to write to Powershop asking it to cease use immediately of the advert, and undertake not to make further use of the Darth Vader character without the prior consent of Lucasfilm.

People would identify the character as a Star Wars property and be led to believe Lucasfilm had approved its use, the lawyers said.  

"Valuable good will and reputation is associated with the character and Lucasfilm is harmed by unauthorised use."

Powershop is a standalone subsidiary of state owned Meridian Energy.

Its chief executive, Ari Sargent, said he responded immediately to the request from Lucasfilm by withdrawing the advert, but was also surprised at having attracted the attention of Lucasfilm "Empire".

"Powershop is not a member of any rebel alliance. I'm surprised the Empire considers small companies like Powershop to be a threat; perhaps our force is stronger than we thought," Sargent said.

The advert is part of Powershop's "Same Power, Different Attitude" campaign which shows dictators and tyrants engaging in unlikely acts of charity and goodwill. 

It was not the intention to harm the reputation associated with Darth Vader in any way, Sargent said.

If anything, the artists on the campaign were enhancing his reputation.

Sargent apologised to Lucasfilm for any harm caused as well as "unnecessary disturbances in the force".

In August, Powershop discovered an image from one of its adverts featuring Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara had been used in an advertising campaign for an Australian energy drink.

At the time, Sargent said Powershop was not planning any action, but if the use of the image had an impact on his company's brand image, and if people started to get confused, he would think about it.

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