This might come as a shock to you but Kevin Butler isn’t a real person. No, really. He was a character, created by a savvy advertising team and played (with aplomb) by Jerry Lambert. He appeared in over 30 adverts for PlayStation and replaced their increasingly bizarre campaigns with a likeable face and a sense of tongue-in-cheek self awareness that many of us connected with.
And then the Butler ad campaign drew to a close and the VP of Amusing Job Titles was sent packing. Lambert, though, was obviously still a working actor. He went on, just three days after his contract with Sony expired, to appear in an advert for Bridgestone in which he could be seen playing on a Wii. To many of us, the game-buying community, it looked like Kevin Butler was now joyfully playing a Wii.
Sony filed a lawsuit against the actor, claiming that his face was so closely associated with PlayStation that this new endorsement of the Wii would be confusing to gamers.
That lawsuit has now concluded with a settlement between Sony and Lambert that will preclude the actor from appearing in any adverts featuring videogames for the next two years. In addition, after those two years, he’ll let Sony know if he’s appearing playing games in enough time for them to assess whether his performance violates their “rights in the Kevin Butler character.”
Kevin Butler is a trademark of Sony and the company claimed that Lambert’s appearance with a Wii was a misappropriation of their intellectual property. The case was settled out of court.