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New law in China subjects celebrities to liability for products they endorse

March 21, 2009 No Comments »
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A new law has been passed in China, following various product liability issues which involved celebrity endorsements of certain products.  One such example involved advertising for Sanlu Group’s products, which is the company that was reportedly involved in the 2008 milk contamination scandal in which six babies died and hundreds of thousands were sickened by milk tainted with melamine.  This new law follows a 2007 law that prohibited or limited celebrity endorsements in China of  nutritional supplements or drug products.  These developments remind me of the sweat-shop controversy of years ago, in which the endorsements by Kathie Lee Gifford and Michael Jordan were called into question.  Gifford withdrew her endorsements of the products unless or until the company changed its practices to prevent child-labor and sweat shop conditions.  Jordan’s response, in contrast, was something along the lines of “not my problem.”  And in some ways, Jordan may be right about that, but it probably comes down to the responsibility or initiative a personality is willing to take for the products he or she endorses.  Something to think about, anyway.  More information:

Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro file suit against watch maker Tutima

March 6, 2009 No Comments »
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Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, two actors well-known for avoiding most or all endorsements or commercial tie-ins, have sued the watch manufacturer Tutima Inc. as well as the film distributor Overture Films.  The offending advertisements were tied to the film “Righteous Kill” in which Pacino and DeNiro starred.  The news announcement can be viewed at this link:

The offending activities apparently included a series of print advertisements as well as a clip of Righteous Kill which appeared on Tutima’s website.   The advertisements used the images of the actors as well as their names.

“De Niro’s and Pacino’s policies concerning commercial endorsements and tie-ins are common knowledge in the entertainment industry,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants’ actions have damaged De Niro’s and Pacino’s valuable reputations and diminished the commercial value of their name and images.”

Both men were very careful about product endorsement, the lawsuit said, with De Niro only endorsing a product or service “under very specific and compelling circumstances.”

“Pacino, over the course of his lengthy career, has never commercially endorsed any product or service in the United States,” the lawsuit said.

Overture and Tutima could not be immediately reached for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, seeks monetary damages for breach of contract, violations of right of publicity and right of privacy laws in an amount to be determined at trial.

Both actors signed talent agreements in 2007 that prohibited using the actors for merchandising or product placements without prior written consent, the suit said.

In “Righteous Kill,” released in September, 2008, Pacino and De Niro played two veteran cops on the trail of a serial killer in a film that was panned by critics. It made more than $78 million worldwide, according to research company Box Office Mojo.

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