John Banzhaf was a lawyer at a high end law firm in New York City. He was against smoking and wanted to get cigarette commercials off the air. The problem was his firm represented Phillip Morris. Needless to say, he needed to find a new job, which he did at George Washington University law school teaching consumer law.
Banzhaf is noted for his advocacy and use of lawsuits as a method to promote what he believes is the public interest. This was back in the 1970s. For example, one group of his students brought a lawsuit against Campbell Soup because they were using marbles in their ads to make the soup look richer.
A friend of ours took one of his classes. His group was called LABEL (Lawyers Advocating Better Education in Labeling). Among their activities was an appearance before Senator Ted Kennedy’s committee. At the time, pet food was labeled, but not human food. To get this point across they brought in one of the groups (Amy’s) beautiful, white Alaskan husky, named Lexi. It was to emphasize that Lexi can’t read, but pet food is labled; we can read and our food isn’t. As we all know they were successful.
A few years later, Amy was in the airport when she saw Senator Kennedy. She approached him and said “I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I was in a group called LABEL. We appeared before your committee to get labeling on human food.”
Ted Kennedy replied, “Yeah, how is Lexi?”
“A dog is man’s best friend.”
Read more by Ada Mark Strausberg.