Published January 06, 2010
The latest celebrity ad to grace a Times Square billboard doesn't feature an athlete, rock star or actor. It's President Obama sporting a black jacket made by the company Weatherproof.
But the White House isn't happy about the newest exposure, saying the president's image -- captured by The Associated Press during his November trip to the Great Wall in Badaling, China -- is not supposed to be used for commercial purposes.
"The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a written statement.
The Weatherproof ad comes as first lady Michelle Obama is featured in an unauthorized ad called "Fur-free & Fabulous" produced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
A senior administration official told Fox News that the no-commercial use policy predates the Obama administration and that the White House Counsel's office spoke to Weatherproof Wednesday and formally asked the company to "take the billboard down."
"This ad is clearly misleading because the company suggests the approval or endorsement of the president of the White House that it does not have," the official said.
Earlier Wednesday, Weatherproof President Freddie Stollmack said the company did not get permission from the White House to create the sign but it did get permission from the photographer who took the picture at the Great Wall of China and credited The Associated Press on the ad.
"We're always looking to raise the image of Weatherproof and what better way to do that than with the president of the United States wearing our coat?" Stollmack told Fox News.
When asked later about the White House reaction, Stollmack told FoxNews.com that his secretary should have taken the call because he's been "deluged with calls from the press."
"It's become a hotter issue than we have anticipated," he said.
The billboard went up on Wednesday. The photo also appears on the home page of the company's Web site, announcing that the "Obama Jacket," which retails for $225 but is now on sale for $99.99, is available at Macy's.
The Web site also features a link to its charity site, "Coats for Clunkers."
At the time of the photo, WWD Fashion called Obama's look "modern while being stylish, casual, sporty and pragmatic."
"The jacket has a fleece bib and removable bucket hood, suggesting that the president likes his jackets as he likes his health care bills: riddled with options," the magazine added.
Elliot Peyser, chief executive officer of Weatherproof, told the magazine that Obama "broke the fashion barrier."
The magazine's response? "Fashion barriers are sometimes easier to mount than political ones, especially for Obama, who left the country without major concessions on climate or monetary policy."
PETA also admits it didn't get permission to use the first lady's image but issued a statement saying Michelle Obama shouldn't be upset by its use.
"We haven't asked the White House to fund or promote the campaign, as they can't do such things, but the fact is that Michelle Obama has issued a statement indicating that she doesn't wear fur, and the world should know that PETA's eyes, that makes her pretty fabulous."
Fox News' Rick Leventhal and Major Garrett contributed to this report.