A story is spun out of an Obama suit

Washington, Nov 10 (IANS) An ad taken by an Indian firm showing US President Barack wearing one of its suits has spawned a story about how the company is trying to cash in on the buzz created by his swing through India.

The Wall Street Tuesday published a scan of a full-page ad taken out by textile and apparel producer S. Kumars Nationwide Ltd in The Times of India and The Economic Times Monday showing Obama wearing one of its suits with the Hart Schaffner Marx label.

Above the photo, in large font, the advert says ‘Welcome President Obama.’ The shot of the president – a screen-grab from his appearance on US chat show ‘The View’ – shows him wearing a Hart Schaffner Marx suit.

In the photo, Obama’s jacket falls open, revealing the brand’s label on the inside breast pocket. S. Kumar’s has magnified that part of the image in an inset to better identify its suit.

S. Kumars and a UK-based partner bought the American brand in 2009 when it took over Chicago-based company Hartmarx Corp for $120 million. Hartmarx has made several suits for Obama, including the one he wore at his inauguration, the Journal noted.

The suit Obama is wearing in the ad is part of Hart Schaffner’s Gold Trumpeter collection. They cost $1,500 a piece and are 97 percent worsted wool and percent cashmere, it said citing the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.

Indian textile companies for decades have made apparel for well-known Western brands. But recently the bigger producers like S. Kumars have begun to buy some of those brands, too, the Journal said.

The problem is that this kind if advertising is unlikely to go down well with the White House, it suggested noting in January, the White House complained they had not given sanction to a US company, The Waterproof Garment Co., to use the president’s image to promote its clothes.

The company installed a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square of Obama visiting the Great Wall in China wearing one of its jackets, accompanied by the slogan, ‘A Leader in Style.’

The Journal said S. Kumars’ advert plays up the burgeoning US-India commercial relationship, with a smaller slogan underneath the photo declaring, ‘Made in USA. Powered by India. A testament to Indo US Friendship.’

The journal quoted a spokesman for the company, Anees Fazalbhoy, as saying S. Kumars has not gotten official sanction from the White House to use the image. He said the company was aware of the furore caused by the Times Square billboard but pointed out that S. Kumars’ advertisement was a one-off.

‘We’re not advertising our product. We’re just welcoming him to India. This is not a campaign,’ he said. ‘We’re proud and honoured that he is wearing our suit.’

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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