Cape Town – Spar’s TOPS liquor brand infringed on the rights of the recovering alcoholic and artist PJ Powers by exploiting her name without consent, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled.
The ASA judgement follows an uproar last month when TOPS advertised liquor as "Grab a drink and show off those PJ POWERS".
Spar’s TOPS said the line was "never used with malicious intent and put out to offend or cause anyone harm", that the PJ referred to pajamas, that "at no time was TOPS ever trying to poke fun at PJ Powers and her struggle with alcohol" and that it was "a harmless parody".
The ASA was having none of it, siding with the well-known and recovering alcoholic.
The ASA Directorate ruled that the advertisement contravened clause 11 of section II of the Code of Advertising Practice, which prohibits advertisers from referring to or portraying living persons without their express, prior permission.
According to the ASA "there is an express prohibition against the "unjustifiable commercial exploitation of the individual’s fame or reputation".
The ASA ruled that Spar's TOPS advertisement had indeed unjustifiably exploited PJ Powers’ fame and reputation and that "the advertisement effectively reduced her battle for sobriety to a marketing stunt to gain commercial traction".
"Advertisers would do well to obtain legal advice before using a reference to, or a portrayal of, any celebrity in their advertisements, or risk incurring the very public wrath of not only the celebrity but also their legion of fans," says Kelly Thompson at firm Adams & Adams.
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