Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stealing faces for ads in the pre-Facebook era

There was a lot of kerfuffle earlier this year about the prospect of facebook advertisers stealing your profile picture for "sponsored stories" ads.  But according to a new Cracked article, it's nothing new.

6 People Who Had No Clue Their Faces Were World-Famous mentions the famous cases of the unaware models for such iconic images as Rosie The Riveter, the Woodstock couple in the blanket, and the revolutionary screaming man. It's worth a read.

But there was one that was a complete surprise to me: The Taster's Choice Guy.

Turns out the bad-coffee-huffer is a kindergarten teacher (and former model) named Russell Christoff, who had posed for an aborted Taster's Choice shoot in Canada in 1986, was given his $250 session fee, and sent on his way to marketing obscurity. Or so he thought.

Because Russell is not really an instant coffee drinker (I feel so betrayed!), he didn't notice that someone in the US marketing department had later "borrowed" his image without paying residuals until 2002.

What followed was a lengthy legal battle in which he first demanded and won $15.6 Million in 2005, which was later overturned on appeal. Nestlé offered him a $10,000 buyout, and he demanded $8.5 million. They turned him down again.

Now they have a new guy.


The moral of the story? Don't steal anyone's image. Unless you are a major corporation, in which case go for it!

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