Money and Marketing: Advertisers co-opt Banksy's latest art stunt
Banksy has accused clothing retailer Guess of stealing his iconic “Flower Thrower” motif for a store display on Regent Street in London, and has urged his 11.5 million Instagram followers to shoplift from the store.
Over the years the artist has had his trademark registration challenged due in part to his desire to conceal his identity. Initially, the European Union Intellectual Property Office ruled that his anonymity prevented his ability to trademark various images. But on Nov. 16, a European Union board of appeals overruled that decision, according to ArtNews, meaning he now has the ability to seek intellectual property protection for images like “Flower Thrower.”
It's unclear whether Guess has licensed the rights to use the artist's image in its clothing line. No mention of Brandalised or Banksy can be found on the Guess website, but a Guess x Brandalised press release, issued by Belgium marketing agency MMBSY that represents it works for Guess, shows a Fall/Winter 2022 capsule collection featuring casual apparel “inspired by Banksy's Graffiti.”
The Brandalised website claims to be a licensor of “the world's most famous graffiti" and shows a quote attributed to Banksy alongside his artwork but does not specifically say the company has a license to use the artist's images. The collection can be found on retailer websites like Urban Outfitters which is selling a “Guess Originals x Brandalised Banksy Crew Neck Sweatshirt” for US$109.
Banksy, Guess, Brandalised, and Urban Outfitters could not be reached for immediate comment.