There’s PR stunts, and then there’s PR stunts. This one ranks up there with the best.
UK childrens’ comic, Beano, has issued a legal threat of trademark infringement against the noted Conservative politician and Member of Parliament here in the United Kingdom, Jacob Rees-Mogg. The Beano issued a cease and desist letter requesting that he stops impersonating Dennis the Menaces’ oft-time nemesis, Walter the Softy.
The letter is from Mike Stirling, head of Beano Studios Scotland, and was addressed to Rees-Mogg at the House of Commons. It warns North East Somerset Conservative that he could be facing possible legal action and requested that the Member of Parliament cease and desist in impersonating the character.
They present the following as evidence m’lud:
(On the left, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, on the right, Beano’s Walter the Softy.
No wait, it’s the other way round.)
Yes, you really can’t deny the evidence there, can you?
The letter (reproduced below) puts forward the following:
It has been brought to our attention that you have been infringing the intellectual property rights of one of our cartoon characters and masquerading as Walter the Softy.
It is evident that there are numerous instances whereby you have adopted trademarked imagery and brand essences of the character to the benefit of enhancing your career and popularity.
They go on to list the various instances of the MP copying Walter’s look, including the character’s hair parting and style, distinctive round reading glasses, the spotty ties and vintage apparel, bullish behavior with peers, stopping others from having fun, insistence on reminding others of his father’s successful career, and snootiness.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Somerset since 2010. Born into the aristocracy, he studied at Eton College, and Trinity College, Oxford, and Mogg’s estimated joint wealth with his wife is in excess of £100 million (aaprox $140 million).
His politics are described as belonging to the right-wing of the Conservative Party. He’s also been described as a traditionalist by some, “Honourable Member for the 18th century” by The Independent’s Adam Lusher, and as a politician whose views “verg on the fascistic… dressed up in tweed with a knowledge of the classics” by The Guardian’s Suzanne Moore.
Walter the Softy, real name Walter Brown, looks far younger than he is, having first appeared in the Beano comic in 1953. Neither Walter, nor his long-time adversary and tormentor Dennis The Menace have commented on the story.
But it seems everyone else in Britain has, with the story being picked up all across social media, and has been reported by, amongst others, the BBC, Sky News, The Telegraph, The Express, Daily Mail, and The Mirror. Unfortunately, the British parliament is currently off on its Easter holidays, but when it does return, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the news gets a mention in Prime Minister’s Questions.
Rees-Mogg has since responded on Twitter:
And here is the full letter from Mike Stirling, Head of Beano Studios Scotland to Jacob Rees-Mogg MP:
Congratulations to all at Beano for this wonderful bit of publicity. You can find out more through the Beano’s Twitter feed, or visit their website. Walter the Softy artwork is by Nigel Parkinson.