H/T Deborah Gerhardt. Via AdAge:
Ronald McDonald loves Taco Bell’s breakfast. That’s what Taco Bell is saying in its campaign introducing its biggest menu rollout yet. The Mexican food chain located a slew of actual Ronald McDonalds and got them to appear in new ads for its breakfast launch proclaiming their love for Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu.
You might wonder what Taco Bell was thinking. I think it might’ve been thinking Marriott Corp. v. Ramada Inc., 826 F.Supp. 726 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) (finding that ads featuring actual people Frank and Cindy Marriott and Donald and Sally Hyatt, and stating “Why the Marriotts [Hyatts] Stay at Renaissance,” didn’t violate the Lanham Act). There, the court said:
It is obvious from even a cursory reading that they are clearly tongue-in-cheek. I cannot see that any reasonable person would be misled—even absent the disclaimer—into believing that the Marriotts or Hyatts featured in the advertisements are in any way related to plaintiffs Marriott Corporation, J.W. Marriott, Jr. or Hyatt Corporation or that the Renaissance Hotels have their “origin” in or their “sponsorship or approval” from those corporations. Accordingly, there is no “likelihood of confusion”, and plaintiffs’ Lanham Act claims must be dismissed as a matter of law.