Lionsgate Retreats from Efforts to Shut Down Anti-Hunger Campaign
Lionsgate, the distributor of the blockbuster movie 'The Hunger Games,' came under fire this weekend when it tried to shut down an anti-hunger campaign inspired by the film titled "Hunger Is Not a Game." But upon further reflection (and a whole lot of negative publicity), the company has backtracked and will keep its lawyers at bay.
Food in the post-apocalyptic setting of 'The Hunger Games' is doled out unequally between the different classes of citizens -- so it seemed a natural fit for Imagine Better, an umbrella group of multiple fan franchises, to join forces with anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam to launch the 'Hunger Is Not a Game' campaign to increase awareness about the injustices that exist in global food distribution and to get people to sign on to Oxfam's GROW pledge.
But good intentions weren't enough for Lionsgate, and a VP from the company sent a letter to Oxfam, saying the group's campaign "piggybacked" on the movie and could "cause damage to Lionsgate and our marketing efforts." Here's an excerpt of that letter:
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.
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.
The missive is especially curious since that Lionsgate knew about the promotion beforehand -- Imagine had asked it to sign on as a formal partner, and while the company declined, it wished Imagine luck with the campaign.
Maybe lines were crossed and there was a breakdown in communication within the company, but once the heavy-handed letter made its way onto the internet and outrage began to spread, Lionsgate changed its tune.
On Monday, a company executive issued a statement that read in part, “We absolutely support and encourage the efforts of organizations battling world hunger and would encourage fans to join our efforts by visiting www.hungergames.com.”