Gung Fu Scratch & the Avengers: Brand Positioning Done Well

Gung Fu Scratch & the Avengers: Brand Positioning Done Well

Originally posted 2017-02-27 12:05:16

Brandon A. McCoy |

Avengers: Age of Ultron domestically grossed $191.3M dollars, and an impressive $631.1M internationally in its first week. Since, it has been reported by CNN the series earned $1B in just 24 days. These staggering numbers propel the Avengers franchise to adorn the number two spot, of top grossing series of all time. Age of Ultron did not disappoint. Tony Start was as witty and brilliant as ever, Bruce Banner was still attempting to come to terms with his “greener” side, and the villain in this particular installment gave the team an epic challenge.

The action was intense and in your face. However, even the missiles and explosions could not compare to the new Gung Fu Scratch T-shirt worn by Robert Downey Jr., during one of the most integral parts of the film. The Gung Fu Scratch T-shirt depicted the legendary Bruce Lee, shirtless, adorning sun glasses, and positioned behind turntables in one of his classic martial arts poses. Critics and fans alike are buzzing over this new product, and the T-shirt has been the topic of discussion for the past several weeks.

Bruce Lee was never a DJ, so it is clear that the shirt has been graphically altered, probably photo shopped. High-end T-shirt manufacturer Bow and Arrow, Inc is the innovator of this creation. The Los Angeles based entity called upon the principles of Intellectual Property, to engineer a licensing agreement with the Bruce Lee estate for rights to the legend’s likeness.

A licensing agreement is typically a contractual right that allows one to manage and control their Intellectual Property rights. This allows the licensee, Bow and Arrow, Inc., to utilize the licensor’s, Bruce lee estate’s, proprietary rights in certain, approved, activities. In the present matter, these rights come in the form of using the legendary martial artist’s likeness on some of their products.

So how did the T-shirt make it to the big screen? It’s simple. What Robert Downey Jr. wants… Robert Downey Jr. usually gets. He is responsible for the shirt being divulged to the world on such a grand stage. According to Business Insider, “Bow and Arrow, Inc. CEO, Peter Lee (no relation), told Business Insider that the shirt made its way to Downey Jr. after the star had a meeting with Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon.” “Robert Downey Jr. saw the shirt in her office and liked it so she gave him one,” said Peter Lee. Robert Downey Jr. has since been spotted wearing the T-shirt at multiple venues.

Due to the permission provided by the Bruce Lee estate, by way of the Licensing agreement, there is no Intellectual Property violation here. There are instances where aftermarket shirts are printed, displayed and marketed, without the presence of the licensing agreement. These do violate Intellectual Property principles and caveat emptor should apply. However, in this particular circumstance the Bruce Lee estate, and Bow and Arrow, Inc. should pat Robert Downey Jr. on the back. Due to his unique form of marketing, he has perhaps made the new T-shirt the hottest selling summer T-shirt on the market.
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