Celebrity endorsements are big business, but they’re also something more personal. Companies will pay athletes and entertainers big money to use their names and images in promotional material in the hopes that their glamour or prestige will attract customers. However, the celebrity also takes a risk with an endorsement deal: If customers don’t like the product or service, it can hurt the celebrity’s reputation. A diminished reputation can in turn hurt the celebrity’s ability to secure new endorsement deals in the future, or even damage the celebrity’s main career in sports or business.
Recently, the bodybuilder, actor and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger filed suit against a nutritional products company, claiming that it is using his name and likeness without his permission, using his reputation as a bodybuilder to give its products a sheen of health. In his lawsuit, Schwarzenegger accuses the company, Arnold Nutrition of “shameful conduct” and defrauding the public.
Initial claims in Schwarzenegger’s lawsuit take on a remarkably personal tone, stating that the former Mr. Universe would never endorse a fitness or nutritional product without first researching it to make sure it was safe and helpful. In his filing, Schwarzenegger claims that the company never contacted him before marketing the products. He claims violation of his publicity rights and unfair competition and seeks $10 million in damages.
Florida attorneys with experience in entertainment and sports law can help athletes and entertainers to secure endorsement deals that will advance their careers. Protection of celebrity likeness, name and reputation can be equally important. Effectively managing a celebrity’s career requires vigilance to make sure unscrupulous people don’t try to exploit the person’s fame without permission.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Arnold Schwarzenegger Files $10 Million Lawsuit,” May 13, 2014