Trudeau's Office Fine With Joe Fresh Using Photo Of Kids In Social Media Post

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OTTAWA — Two of the prime minister's kids have popped up in a clothing retailer's social media campaign.

But Canadian retailer Joe Fresh didn't strike a deal with Justin Trudeau before putting a Canada Day picture of the children in a paid-for Facebook post celebrating what they were wearing.

Instead, the photo came from the prime minister's official account on the photo sharing site Flickr, where his official photographer routinely posts pictures of Trudeau's personal and professional life.

joe fresh justin trudeau family
Screengrab of a Joe Fresh Facebook post, featuring the Trudeau family.

The photo shows Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and their two children, Xavier and Ella-Grace, holding hands in front of the stage that was set up on Parliament Hill. Both children are wearing items for sale on Joe Fresh's website.

The company subsequently took the image and plunked it into a sponsored Facebook post, ensuring it would be seen online, writing underneath it was happy and honoured the kids celebrated the holiday weekend wearing its clothes.

They repeated that message when asked by The Canadian Press whether they were deliberately trying to boost their brand with Trudeau's star power.

"We're always pleased when Canadians choose to wear Joe Fresh, including the Trudeau family," the director of public relations Nicole Plener said in a statement.

"The prime minister and his family are photographed at public events on a regular basis and many of those pictures are posted on social media by various organizations and individuals."

For its part, the Prime Minister's Office does not take issue with the company's use of the photo.

People don't need to ask permission to use what the office posts to social media, said deputy director of communications Olivier Duchesneau.

"The prime minister and his family are photographed at public events on a regular basis and many of those pictures are posted on social media by various organizations and individuals," he said.

Duchesneau would not comment on whether the office was concerned about a company using the prime minister and his family for commercial purposes.

They wouldn't be, said Alex Marland, a political science professor at Memorial University in St. John's who specializes in political branding and message control.

'Harperization' of the PMO?

"Why is the Prime Minister's Office creating these photographs, circulating them and saying people are allowed to reuse them?" he said.

"It is because the Prime Minister's Office wants them to reuse them."

In some ways, this is the creeping "Harperization" of this Prime Minister's Office, Marland added.

"Why I refer to it that way is one of the things that got opposition parties so up in arms was the use of prime minister's office resources to promote the image of the prime minister," he said.

Marland specifically pointed to the example of former prime minister Stephen Harper's use of "24 Seven" videos and prior to that, the image of the day distributed by his office.

"Everybody in any prime minister's office in the past, currently and in the future will do things ultimately to their own advantage," he said. "That's not always bad."

"Why is the Prime Minister's Office creating these photographs, circulating them and saying people are allowed to reuse them? It is because the Prime Minister's Office wants them to reuse them."

Joe Fresh has been the subject of controversy in recent years.

This April marked the third anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh — a massive industrial disaster that killed more than 1,100 workers and left more than 2,000 others injured.

Rochon Genova LLP, a Toronto-based class action firm, is currently pursuing a proposed class-action on behalf of the survivors, the families and estates collapse victims against Loblaws and the workplace inspection company, Bureau Veritas.

In court documents, it alleges much of the clothing produced in the biggest factory operating at the Rana Plaza were made for by Loblaws-owned Joe Fresh brand.

The Prime Minister's Office would not comment on the company's record and Joe Fresh did not respond to a request to comment on the class-action effort.

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