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Woody Allen Lawsuit Fallout: Dov Hopes They Can Still Be Friends

The infamous billboard.  We're sort of hoping never to run this photo again.
The infamous billboard. We're sort of hoping never to run this photo again.

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After American Apparel agreed to pay Woody Allen $5 million this morning, Dov Charney released a statement making it clear that settling was not his idea. "For the record, I personally think we had a good case," he writes, reiterating his argument that the company's Woody-Allen-as-rebbe billboard wasn't a straightforward advertisement but a political statement, and therefore protected under First Amendment rights. American Apparel's insurance company, however, wasn't interested in having a discussion about the nuances of fame, scandal, and identity, and so they insisted on settling.

In his statement, Charney calls Woody Allen "a man who has long been one of my inspirations" and points out that whether or not the billboards were ads, they definitely failed to promote his brand:

The billboards were designed to inspire dialogue. They were certainly never intended to sell clothes. (And they didn't. We recently hired a market-research company to determine the commercial impact, if any, of the billboards; they found they had no impact on anyone's decision to shop at our stores.)

What might affect people's decision to shop there, though, is the court case itself. On NPR's Marketplace this morning, an intellectual property lawyer and a marketing expert both argued that American Apparel is getting over $5 million worth of publicity out of the lawsuit. As one put it: "Consumers won't remember the details of this lawsuit, but they will remember American Apparel."

So was this all a conspiracy to move spandex leggings? We can't really answer that question, of course, but we do know at least one person for whom brand awareness of AA has exponentially increased. Writes Charney: "In his deposition, Mr. Allen said that he had never heard of American Apparel or me prior to the billboard. I believe that if Mr. Allen became more familiar with the company, he might appreciate some aspects of American Apparel specifically our commitment to creativity."
· A Statement from Dov Charney about the Woody Allen Case [American Apparel]
· American Apparel suit means cheap ads [Marketplace]
· American Apparel's Legal Argument: Those Woody Allen Billboards Were Political Statements, Not Ads [Racked]