Two well-known liquor brands, Budweiser beer and Stolichnaya vodka, found themselves in a PR pickle when the feature film Flight, starring Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot, was released — featuring the brands just a bit too prominently for their liking. Now, the brands have asked Paramount Pictures to blur the drinks' images in the film.
In a letter to Paramount, Anheuser-Busch VP Robert Mccarthy said that he nor the brand had any idea Budweiser would be so prominently featured in the film. The brands are upset that the booze is being "misused." "We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving," wrote McCarthy in the email. Stoli reps also told the media that they were upset about the portrayal of the brand. "Considering the subject matter of this film, it is not something in which we would have participated," said one Stoli exec to the Associated Press.
Though Stoli has made no formal move to be removed from the movie, Anheuser-Busch asked that the Bud logo be removed or blurred in future digital copies and video-on-demand releases. Other liquor brands in the movies, like Absolut and Smirnoff, have not yet commented on the film.
However, as Hollywood Reporter points out, Paramount doesn't really have to do anything for their demands. Filmmakers can get around trademark and copyright laws for using brand logos, thanks to "fair use" privileges under federal laws.