Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Friday, June 13, 2003

spike spikes spike

Say what you like about E! (starting with that stupid exclamation point), but they do have a way with a headline, don't they?

E! Online News - Spike Spikes Spike: A good day for Spike. And a bad day for Spike.
     Spike Lee has won the first round in his name-game battle with Viacom as a New York judge on Thursday temporarily barred the media goliath from renaming its TNN cable network Spike TV. [...] For its part, Viacom insisted Lee doesn't have a monopoly on the word. [...] Besides, Kovner argued, Spike Lee's real name is Shelton. Ultimately, though, Tolub didn't buy that argument. "Contrary to defendants' position, the court is of the opinion that in the age of mass communication, a celebrity can in fact establish a vested right in the use of only their first name or a surname," the judge said. "There are many celebrities that are so recognized, including Cher, Madonna, Sting and Liza."

The New York Times article notes that the judge also said, "In addition to the name Spike, there are other indicia that defendants sought to exploit Mr. Lee's persona, most notably Mr. Lee's reputation for irreverence and aggressiveness."

It will be interesting to see where this goes. On the one hand, at least theoretically, Viacom must have invested loads in marketing and research, and has a fair amount of money riding on this. (Although they must have gotten some truly wretched market research on this matter; I don't know anyone who doesn't think that this is a seriously stupid name for a network.) And the lawsuit is just loads of publicity -- if not precisely free -- for the channel. People might be tuning into the old new TNN just to see what all the fuss is about. And given the bond and the fact that Spike Lee may not actually win a permanent injunction, he's got a fair amount of change riding on this as well.

All that said ... Viacom really ought to just surrender now and go back to the drawing board. After all, BCBTBBtv is still available! I wouldn't even charge for coming up with the name! (Someone else would have to do the logo, though. Some places, you just don't want to go.)

Posted by iain at 12:17 PM in category