‘Kevin Butler’ is Being Sued by Sony,
It really does feel like we have wandered far down the rabbit hole this time folks. That is because news broke earlier tonight of a lawsuit filed on September 11 by Sony Computer Entertainment again actor Jerry Lambert and tire-maker Bridgestone in relation to a commercial off the latter featuring the former. And for those of you going “Who is Jerry Lambert and why should I care?” perhaps the following ad also staring Mr. Lambert will shed some light on the matter:
That is right, Jerry Lambert for years now has played the part of none other than Kevin Butler aka THE face-man of Sony Computer Entertainment. Who are now suing him for trademark infringement. You cannot make this stuff up people. The ad in question was, as you might guess, for Bridgestone Tires and specifically focused on a promotion the company is running in partnership with such companies as American Express and Nintendo. Where rub comes in is the fact that the ad featured Lambert and a number of other actors playing a round of Mario Kart on the Wii. The original ad (which can be found in its entirety here) has since be edited to completely remove Lambert from it but apparently that was not enough for Sony.
Here is the thing: we do not know all the details in this case but it would not surprise me if Lambert had in his contract a set period of time in which he could not be seen endorsing competing video game consoles. And even though Lambert is not playing a character remotely resembling (much less directly or indirectly referenced as) his Butler persona, this is still probably too close to comfort for Sony. All that being said, I cannot imagine a much worse way the company could have handled this affair than with a lawsuit.
Sure you have to protect your trademark but at the same time Kevin Butler is not exactly an intellectual property that is going to have much value in and of itself. Without Lambert there is not Butler and now it seems unlikely that Lambert will ever want to willing have anything to do with Sony again. Lawsuits tend to sour relationships you know. Not mention what effect this will have on morale of the larger PlayStation community, who in recent years have come to embrace the Butler character in a way that normally makes PR firms drool. Again, it is hard to speculate safely without having more facts about the case, but at the very least I cannot help but wonder if Sony had really exhausted all their other options before turning to a lawsuit (and considering this ad first start airing only a week before the lawsuit was filed I have my doubts).
It becomes even worse when you realize that only a few weeks after this lawsuit was filed, SCE America laid off half their PR department. So rebuilding without Butler will be that much harder. Oh well, it is not like Sony has a big first party crossover game that they are pinning much of their holiday sales on coming out soon and that will need heavy promotion in order to succeed… Oh wait. That is right. They do. It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out before all is said and done and you can count on Blistered Thumbs to stay on top of this story as it continues to develop. In the meantime, be sure to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.