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Article: Red Cross Invokes Logo Rights

Medialone News, November 8 2002
By Joy Zaccaria

In August 2002 Anchor Bay Entertainment of Troy, MI released the three-DVD set of horror cult film phenomenon Sleepaway Camp and its sequels. Unbeknownst to Anchor Bay, the set’s original “red cross” packaging technically violated the Geneva Convention. 

For 20,000 pieces, the design of the outer case originally sported a large red cross as the main graphic element. “Our package was intended to give the impression of being a first aid kit,” said Tom Bambard, senior brand manager of horror and sci-fi at Anchor Bay. “Then of course it had a big bloody handprint on it—like somebody at camp grabbed the first aid kit to save himself.” 

The design of the package was done in-house at Anchor Bay. “We did a review of whether there were any trademarks associated with [the red cross logo] and we thought we had done a reasonable amount of due diligence in identifying any restrictions. We thought the red cross was a public domain image. That turned out not to be true,” said Bambard. 

A representative of the Canadian Red Cross contacted Anchor Bay after finding the offending box in a retail store and informed the studio that the use of the red cross insignia was restricted by the Geneva Convention. Article 18 of the Geneva Convention adopted in 1950 reads: Civilian hospitals shall be marked by means of the emblem provided for in Article 38 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949, but only if so authorized by the State. To avoid confusion for the wounded in a military action, Anchor Bay was politely yet sternly advised by the Red Cross to remove the logo from the DVD package. (The only company that uses it without Red Cross’ permission is Johnson and Johnson, which existed in 1906, prior to the signing of the Geneva Convention.) “We certainly took it seriously,” said Bambard. “We immediately communicated our willingness to repackage any existing product and make the necessary changes to all product going forward.”

Anchor Bay redesigned the package without the cross and instead put the words “Survival Kit” in a drippy blood font. An inner sliding case holds three DVD Alphas and a collector’s booklet. 

The packages were produced by Tepel Brothers, a fellow Troy, MI firm that handles many packages for Anchor Bay. The discs were replicated at Crest National.

Roughly half of the discs were special editions exclusively for retail chain Best Buy that featured a bonus fourth disc and a slight packaging variation announcing the bonus with an extra blood splatter. “We used a matte finish on the basic package and then a high-gloss UV over the blood splatter and bloody hand print,” said Bambard. “It really looks like drying blood.” Best Buy approached Anchor Bay about the exclusive bonus fourth disc. “We knew Best Buy would do a significant volume of business to the Sleepaway Camp audience. It’s a good match. We get requests periodically by just about everybody. We try to accommodate them when we can. You don’t always have enough material. In some cases the exclusive package may have a different retail point. In this case it didn’t,” said Bambard.

The Best Buy bonus fourth disc had footage from the never finished Sleepaway Camp IV—The Survivor. “It was a project that died before it got finished,” said Bambard. “We had a bunch of the dailies and a trailer that had been edited together that had never been seen by anybody.”



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