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Despite outcry, Wellington aims to copy Hollywood sign again

Wellington, May 21 (JY&A Media) Wellington International Airport Ltd. has announced its intention to erect a ‘Wellywood’ sign, apeing the Hollywood original, despite a huge outcry from residents in 2010 that had initially forced it to back down from the idea.
   Residents have taken to Facebook and Twitter again on news of the sign as it reached the media, with the largest Facebook group, at over 15,000 members, suddenly springing to life.
   Jack Yan, co-author of Beyond Branding and a director of the Medinge Group branding think-tank in Sweden, campaigned against the sign when running for Mayor of Wellington last year. Based in Wellington, where he runs several other businesses, he has restated his opposition in 2011.
   ‘Wellington prides itself on its originality and creativity, and I cannot see how copying someone else expresses either,’ he says. ‘This is totally contrary to the city’s brand.’
   ‘The Airport’s management believes that it can wear down citizens by floating the idea again. From what I have seen, the Airport has misjudged all Kiwis once more.’
   Wellington risks becoming a laughing-stock, says Los Angeles-based branding expert William Shepherd, of Multicultural Brand Consultancy.
   ‘I thought that was over,’ he says. ‘Wellington and New Zealand both have such a positive image here, of intelligent, decent people.
   ‘A real brand is something that represents people accurately, which they can get behind. It’s a shame to see how a small group of people at the Airport can propose something that goes against Wellingtonians and their culture.’
   As in 2010, Mr Yan has notified the Hollywood Sign Trust and the licensing body behind the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which controls how the original Hollywood sign is used.
   ‘I do not believe parody is a defence in this case, as the plans shown by the Airport indicate that the copying breaches several established areas in intellectual property law,’ he says.
   Mr Yan, who also holds a law degree, believes that the sign breaches numerous aspects of intellectual property law, and that he would have acted as passionately if a New Zealand firm was being ripped off.
   In 2010, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce consulted its lawyers. Mr Yan says that the Chamber’s licensing body had very grave concerns after he alerted them of the plans.
   The Airport’s chief executive, Steve Fitzgerald, disputes that, telling the Fairfax Press that the Chamber’s actions were only driven by opponents of the ‘Wellywood’ sign.
Jack Yan and 2007 Audi Allroad
Jack Yan with 2007 Audi Allroad Quattro 4·2 (2007)
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Photographer credit: Douglas Rimington
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About Jack Yan
Jack Yan founded Jack Yan & Associates (, one of the world’s first virtual firms, in 1987. His company is based or represented in over a dozen countries worldwide. Among his company’s interests are business consulting, imaging, software and media, including the fashion magazine brand Lucire. He writes on topics, ranging from branding and business responsibility to fashion and typography, in numerous publications worldwide and is a regular international speaker. His personal site is at, and features a highly regarded blog. He is a director of the Medinge Group (, a think-tank in Sweden devoted to cutting-edge branding. In 2010, he ran a strong but unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand.
About Jack Yan & Associates
Started in 1987, Jack Yan & Associates is a communications’ company with businesses in brand consulting, font software and media. JY&A Consulting is connected to the Medinge Group think-tank of Sweden, through its founder Jack Yan. JY&A Fonts is New Zealand’s first digital typefoundry and the leading player in the country. JY&A Media is an early pioneer in online publishing, with its first digital magazine launched in 1992; its ventures include Lucire, the international fashion magazine. Jack Yan & Associates is headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand, but has divisions, representatives, licensees and other presences globally.
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