Beer Company Threatens Newspaper with Lawsuit Over Photo of Alleged Killer

Update: Apparently, after hearing the Montreal Gazette’s response and suffering a rough social media backlash, Labatt have decided to back off and not pursue the issue any further. You can find all of the details here.

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if your company logo showed up in a picture of an alleged killer? Chances are you wouldn’t be too thrilled with any of the 1000 words that picture was generating.

That’s the situation beer company Labatt recently found itself in because of a photo of murder suspect Luka Magnotta publicized in the Montreal Gazette. Magnotta was recently accused of murdering a Chinese engineering student, dismembering the body and mailing the parts to political parties — and in said photo(seen above) he is drinking a Labatt Blue. Needless to say, Labatt isn’t happy with what the picture is doing for their company image.

They’re so unhappy, in fact, that the photo might soon become the center of a legal debate, as Karyn Sullivan, Labatt’s associate general counsel, explains:

As I am sure you can understand, this image is highly denigrating to our brand, and we are disturbed that this image remains on your site despite repeated requests and the many images available of this person.

The issue may well come to legal blows soon, especially since the Montreal Gazette, which pulled the image off of Magnotta’s Facebook, has said that they have no intention of pulling the picture down. According to the gazette’s lawyer Mark Bantey:

The photo is newsworthy. The Gazette is not in the business of altering photos because they might offend people, and there was certainly no legal requirement to take it down.

Ironically, the whole situation is quickly turning into a prime example of the Streissand effect, doing nothing but harm to Labatt by garnering far more negative attention than the photo would have ever done by itself.

(via Metro News)

Thanks for sending in the tip, Chris!

  • jdm8

    If they had just let it go, it people would probably forget about it in a week.

    I hadn’t seen this photo before this article.

  • Luke Hermann

    Why all the fuss? It’s a killer beer!

  • stanimir stoyanov

    Where is that Texas attorney lady when you need ‘er?

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    I bet it’s the beer company’s marketing scheme. They simply just wanna take advantage of the situation and milk it. Like Kim K….

  • Antonio Carrasco

    It seems like free advertising for the company. Why not get your logo seen by more people.

  • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

    In response, his lawyer could counter

    “As I am sure you can understand, Lablatt Blue is highly denigrating to my client, and we are disturbed your brand remains associated with him. How can he get a fair trial with your product placement so evident?”

  • Soma Jones

    I won’t quit drinking it just because of this dork. and it’s pronounced, “Canada”

  • erki

    no it’s not….it’s piss beer

  • Julian Maytum

    Texas lawyers are about as welcome in Canada as the clap :)

  • AcevedoJulian

    my best friend’s sister-in-law got paid $14696 the prior month. she is making money on the inte<!–truth is almight–>rnet and bought a $372500 home. All she did was get blessed and work up the steps uncovered on this link 

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  • Ashleigh

    While I despise everything Labatt and revel and chortle every time anything Labatt gets denigrated, my real comment is over this:

    “The Gazette is not in the business of altering photos because they might offend people”

    This of course is a big fat lie.  The Montreal Gazette and all North American media outlets alter photos based on offensive content.  We’ve all seen the black screen warning with click through, or the paucity of real offensive imagery of accidents, death, dismemberment, etc., facial obscuring.  But what’s deemed offensive to the public is different than to Labatt or any given corporate brand.

    Probably the Montreal Gazette would alter this photo if Labatts were a major advertiser in their paper or online.  Now of course it’s personal….  And it’s worth noting that Labatt’s has done little to endear themselves to Canadians, Labatt’s is afterall now a Belgian company, and guilty of some questionable drinks’ market manipulation.


    Apparently Labatt backtracked 3 days ago after the social media mini-shitstorm

  • Renato Murakami

    Only a company doomed to fail would think of such a stupid move…

    If the public took the chance with this pic to criticize the brand, it’s a good indication that their product is crap and they need to make some changes.
    If they had some humor, they’d definitely use this in some sort of campaign… with high levels of dark humour, but still. Didn’t need to be official.
    And then, they could’ve just kept their mouths shut, let it roll, people would forget about it soon enough.But no, they wanna go for the Internet whine contest crown.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Hey, that’s unfair, their product is not crap … it’s piss.

  • Mike

    Good to know they backed out of the lawsuit.  Not sure they could win that one anyway.

  • DL Cade

    Thank you for pointing that out NEF2JPG, we’ve updated the post to reflect the new information :)

  • chuntianwen

  • henfana

  • Jackson Cheese

    It really is.  All pale lagers are essentially same.

  • Jackson Cheese

    Yeah, no.

  • Guest

    Excellent advertising: “Labatt Blue, for the Killer in You!”