Anti-AIDS organization Sida Info Service pulled ads featuring Disneyesque characters, after only a two-week run last month, because of complaints from Disney.
Sida Info Service officials said they preferred to scrap the print ads rather than risk possible legal action by Disney. (Sida is the French acronym for AIDS.)
The educational campaign, using parodies of Cinderella and Snow White in sexual encounters, was created by Grey Advertising to inform women about their greater vulnerability to AIDS infection than men during unprotected heterosexual sex.
In one ad, Snow White is seen astride her partner as the text explains the reasons she required him to use a condom to protect her. The Cinderella ad depicts the outlines of a couple inside a pumpkin carriage, with the woman instructing the male to "put this on first."
The campaign's slogan: "So your love story remains a fairy tale."
MESSAGE TO WOMEN
The point of the campaign, said Yves Ferrarini, director of the publicly financed Sida Info Service, was to remind women that the magical and romantic element of such encounters with their own Prince Charmings should not blind them to the greater risk they run from engaging in unprotected sex.
"It was a parody that we believed to be in the best interests of everyone," Mr. Ferrarini said. "But because Disney felt very strongly that we should not be using any images based on Disney characters, we decided to withdraw the ads and avoid any possible legal action."
Mr. Ferrarini said a lawyer had cleared the ads before Sida Info Service ran them. Under French law, if a copyrighted image is clearly parodied or distorted so that the viewer cannot confuse the original with the spoof, there is no copyright infringement. Disney, however, apparently believed its characters were being misused in the ads and moved to protect their images.
DISNEY WASN'T `BELLIGERENT'
Asked about Disney's protest to his organization, Mr. Ferrarini said: "It wasn't belligerent, but I wouldn't characterize it as friendly either. I felt they'd very probably resort to legal action if we did not pull the ads, and viewed a lawsuit as being in no one's best interest-even one we might win."
Disney had no comment.
A third ad, using a non-Disney character, remains in use, but Sida Info Service worries that the controversy has tainted what had been a collective charity effort.
With very little money available to spend on its educational ads, the organization had relied on Grey's volunteer labor to create the ads, and then sought free ad space from magazines and newspapers to carry the messages.