This morning ThinkProgress reported that Lionsgate, the studio behind The Hunger Games, is attempting to shutdown the ‘Hunger Is Not a Game’ campaign run by our friends over at Imagine Better and the Harry Potter Alliance.
As early as last month, Lionsgate gave the blessing to this campaign:
“A Lionsgate representative emailed Andrew Slack, the executive director of the Harry Potter Alliance which is the organizing force behind Imagine Better, in February to say that while Lionsgate couldn’t join Imagine Better as a partner, they wished Imagine Better ‘the best of luck.’”
So it’s even more frustrating when a month later, Lionsgate pulls a complete aboutface, only days after Imagine Better got a writeup in The New York Times. The short version is that Lionsgate claims the campaign is misusing their brand and is damaging their marketing campaign. The long version is below:
This morning I left 2 phone messages for your CEO Mr. Jim Daniell regarding your campaign “Hunger is not a Game” piggy backing off of our motion picture “The Hunger Games” and using Lionsgate’s fans and fan internet sites to promote your cause.
As I mentioned in my phone message, Lionsgate has formed a partnership with two large organizations fighting hunger, the UN’s World Food Program and Feeding America. We are encouraging fans to support this effort by going to www.wfp.org/hungergames.
What is not a part of the Lionsgate plan is the distortion of our Motion Picture title. That is what Oxfam has done with your “Hunger is not a Game” logo. And with the many website you have incorporated into your campaign. This is causing damage to Lionsgate and our marketing efforts.
We understand and support your cause and mission. We are on the same side. We are looking for an amicable resolution. For a start we request that you immediately remove any mention of “Hunger is not a Game” from all of your websites and its affiliates and stop using the slogan in your interviews and publicity or press releases. Additionally, please contact the undersigned so we can work out a mutually acceptable plan to go forward where we do not infringe on each other’s rights.
We are truly making an effort to work with you on this. We have the ability to take down your sites as a violation of our trademark and other intellectual property laws. We hope that will not be necessary as this is too serious a subject.
All rights reserved. Thank you.
Liat Cohen, Esquire
Senior Vice President Business Affairs & Litigation
What is most startling about all of this, in my opinion, is how extremely aggressive Lionsgate is being, not even bothering to veil their threats of takedown and worse. Despite all of this, Mr. Slack has responded, cool as ever: “Fans have been changed by this story and have expressed a wish to change the world based on the message of this story. I would hope that Lionsgate would celebrate fans, not pick on them, for taking the message of their own movie seriously. It’s amazing that they’re working with two great partners already to fight hunger. But why get in the way of fans who are working with a third one?”
Do you see anything wrong with Andrew’s suggestion? No? Us neither. Finally, as Leakycon Lit-Day Organizer and Queen of the Internet Maureen Johnson puts it, “PR people and all relevant others: it’s shortsighted (and stupid) to try to protect your “brand” from positive fan involvement and charity. Also, if you (again PR and relevant types) think you can control the media narrative anymore-that kind of thinking will bite you in the ass.”
We agree. Go express your opinion in the comments!