Lambert -- or is that Butler? -- playing Mario KartKevin Butler might be utterly loyal to Sony and the PlayStation, but he's not, you know, real. The comedic executive is played by actor Jerry Lambert, and while he's had a great run with Sony, that relationship appears to be coming to an end thanks to a tire commercial.
The electronics giant has sued Lambert, his production company Wildcat Creek Inc., and Bridgestone Tires for a gaggle of scary charges including breach of contract and (essentially) theft of intellectual property. That property?
Lambert, in January, started appearing in ads for Bridgestone, making his debut during the Super Bowl (you can see him mocking Deion Sanders at the end). The character seemed Butler-esque, but not enough for it to bother Sony.
Recently, though, Bridgestone started running another promotion, giving customers a $70 gift card or a Nintendo Wii console. An ad featured Lambert wearing a lab coat and seemingly playing Mario Kart -- and that's where Sony drew the line.
"We invested significant resources in bringing the Kevin Butler character to life and he's become an iconic personality directly associated with PlayStation products over the years," Dan Race, Sony's senior director of corporate communications said in a statement to Venturebeat. "Use of the Kevin Butler character to sell products other than those from PlayStation misappropriates Sony's intellectual property, creates confusion in the market, and causes damage to Sony."
The case was filed on September 11. Lambert and Sony reportedly came close to reaching an agreement a little over two weeks later, though the suit has not yet been withdrawn. Lambert has since been removed from recent Bridgestone ads.
The Kevin Butler character made his debut in 2009 and was quickly embraced by gamers for his haughty, snarky attitude and obsessive devotion to the Sony brand. Over the course of numerous campaigns on TV, Twitter and other outlets, Butler has held more than 45 titles, including "VP of Apologetic Apologies" when the PlayStation Network was down for 24 hours and "Director of Rumor Confirmation" when Sony dropped the PS3's price to $299.