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In Time for Halloween, the BP Oil Spill Costume

Aug 17, 2010 – 7:51 AM
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(Aug. 17) -- Just when British Petroleum thought it had stanched the flow of oil and bad PR, this little item washed up like a tar ball on the shores of American commercialism: introducing the 2010 BP oil spill Halloween costume.

Developed by costume supplier Fun World of Carle Place, N.Y., the slick getup depicts an oil rigger in a grease-stained jump suit bearing a wrench in one hand and a dead fish in the other.

Dubbed the "Bad Planning" costume, a reference to the mock corporate name on the breast of the jump suit, the ensemble was unveiled earlier this month and is now available for pre-order online.
Halloween BP Costume
Fun World
Introducing the 2010 BP oil spill Halloween costume. The BP in this case stands for "Bad Planning," not British Petroleum.

While no one will confuse Bad Planning with British Petroleum (wait, scratch that thought), the logo above the name could elicit double-takes. Its green and yellow sunburst motif, with the letters BP in the center, looks tantalizingly similar to the renowned British Petroleum logo.

Meredith Abraham, owner of Anytime Costumes, an Internet retailer that plans to sell the costume, was initially hesitant when a Fun World sales representative came calling with the outfit.

"I asked them, 'Is this really gonna fly?'" Abraham said in an interview with AOL News, "and they said their lawyers said it should be OK."

Alan Geller, executive vice president of Fun World, stands by his creation, citing the allowance for parody and satire in intellectual property and trademark law. He also questioned the wisdom of a large multinational company like BP taking on a small Halloween costume company like Fun World.

"You would hope that, given what's been going on, they would have better things to do with their time," Geller told AOL News.

He also believes that a lawsuit would bring unwanted publicity to the oil company and added, "You have to wonder what people would think of BP going after a little guy like me."

Roberta Bren, a trademark attorney at Oblon Spivak in Alexandria, Va., echoes Geller's sentiments. "It may not be in the best interest of the trademark owner to bring attention to the product," Bren said in a phone interview. "The media loves this sort of story."

And because trademark cases rarely result in the awarding of monetary damages, Bren added, BP may not even want to know about the Bad Planning costume.

"They want the blinders on," she explained, "so they don't have to think about whether to take action."

While the connection to BP is deliberate, the idea for the costume, as Geller tells it, was nearly as spontaneous as the spill itself. A month ago, he and his creative team were sitting around talking about the spill, when one of their designers said, "Hey, we have this mechanic costume. I see it in green."

So, the design team got to work, modifying the company's "Killer Mechanic" costume, which featured a blood-stained blue jump suit and oversized wrench. The artists changed the blood to oil and within hours, Presto!, they had the Bad Planning outfit.

Though Fun World is making light of the spill, the company plans to donate a small percentage of the proceeds from the costume to relief efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's not the first time that Fun World has been associated with a horror story, either: the company is best known, perhaps, as the manufacturer of the iconic mask from the movie "Scream."
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