CNN's Kareen Wynter has filed a two-minute video report (see below) on the legal dispute between GUNS N' ROSES and Dr Pepper over what the group is calling "a complete fiasco" of a publicity stunt. The soft drink manufacturer promised everyone in the U.S. a free can of soda if the new GUNS album, "Chinese Democracy", came out before the end of 2008, and on the day of the record's November 23 release, made a coupon available at the Dr Pepper web site for the free drink. But GUNS lawyer Alan S. Gutman told Dr Pepper CEO Larry Young in a letter that the company's web site crashed due to the demand, causing "an unmitigated disaster which defrauded consumers and, in the eyes of vocal fans, 'ruined' the day of 'Chinese Democracy''s release."
The band is seeking a public apology through newspaper ads, along with more time for people to claim their free soda and monetary damages. Gutman continued in his letter, "This campaign brazenly violated our clients'rights in numerous respects. Unfortunately, Dr Pepper has now magnified the damage this campaign has caused through its appalling failure to make good on a promise it made to the American public . . . Had you wished to engage in a commercial tie-in with our clients, you should have negotiated a legitimate arrangement instead of hijacking their rights without payment. Rest assured, this misappropriation will not be free."
A statement sent by Dr Pepper to the New York Times indicated that the company "took great steps" to ensure that everyone who requested a can of soda got one, adding, "This was one of the largest responses we have ever received for a giveaway."
One of GUNS leader Axl Rose's lawyers told the Times that the band's representatives tried to collaborate with Dr Pepper on the best way to distribute the soda, but that negotiations broke down.
"When you go on the blogs and you read the responses from the fans, they associated Axl with this promotion ... and blame him for the fact that they didn't get their free soda," GN'R lawyer Laurie Soriano told CNN. "We've gone public with the fact that we are not involved but are trying to clean up the mess."