A Mexican actor has won a ruling against international beverages company Diageo for using images of himself and his family without authorization in an advertising campaign that ran five years ago.
It was in September of 2011 that Gael García Bernal received a call from a friend who had just seen a television ad for Johnnie Walker whisky, entitled Walk With Giants.
The actor saw the ad shortly after: it opened with the title followed by his name over the text, “How to define courage.”
For the next 50 seconds the commercial showed a collage of images showing García Bernal in some of his films and in others believed to have been taken from social media where he was seen on the beach, playing soccer and in the company of family.
The ad finished with the slogan, “Johnnie Walker, Keep Walking,” and the brand’s logo at one side.
Five years later, a civil court judge in Mexico ordered Diageo to pay the actor compensation equal to 40% of the value of Johnnie Walker sales where the ad was shown and during the period it ran.
According to a report by Milenio yesterday, the amount is stipulated in federal copyright law.
The ruling confirmed a 2013 decision by IMPI, the Mexican Institute for Industrial Property, that the commercial violated the law. It ordered a fine equal to 1,000 times the minimum wage, which at this year’s rate of 73.04 pesos would amount to 73,040 pesos, or US $3,900 at today’s exchange rate. Diageo appealed that decision, which resulted in this week’s ruling.
It remains to be seen how much money that might be. The commercial ran at least 22 times over the course of a month.
Diageo argued that the campaign was not intended as publicity for the company but a means of featuring “great personalities” to encourage Johnnie Walker consumers to strive to reach their goals.
The commercial, the company said, did not mention the qualities of the product or invite people to drink it. But one small detail that was raised by García Bernal’s lawyers was the appearance of a “drink responsibly” message — Evite el exceso — in the ad.
García Bernal was not the only Mexican actor’s name and image used in the campaign. One was Diego Luna, who also took the case to IMPI and won.
Several others appeared as well but reportedly had given their consent.
A press release issued by Diageo in 2011 said the campaign, introduced in 1999, was intended to “showcase a series of pioneering ideas which could help the world take a step forwards.” It won several international awards.
Non-Mexican people that were featured included “stories of some of the world’s most inspirational men,” such as Sir Richard Branson, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and others.
Source: Milenio (sp)