I opened up this month’s Vanity Fair magazine and came across an advertisement for Longines watches.
The ad features a thin, dark-haired woman wearing a white fascinator hat and watching a horse race. The woman is shown in profile and has a dimpled smile. The image reminded me of someone but I couldn’t quite place it.
Then it hit me – the woman looked like Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Was British Royalty now endorsing watches (luxury watches, of course, but even so)?
While it is entirely possible that Kate Middleton’s sister, Pippa, would pose for such an ad, I had a hard time believing that the Queen of England would permit the Duchess to do so.
Whether intentional or not, Longines appears to have used a look-a-like in their watch advertisement.
Of course, retailers’ use of celebrity look-a-likes to endorse their products is not new. And celebrities suing over the unauthorized use of their images – even through look-a-likes – is becoming more common.
In 2011, Kim Kardashian sued Old Navy for using a Kim-K look-a-like in their Super C-U-T-E advertisement. Ms. Kardashian claimed that the company violated her publicity rights and interfered with actual clothing endorsements. Old Navy settled with Ms. Kardashian out of court.
In 2010, Lindsay Lohan sued E*Trade for $100 million over their “milk-aholic” baby commercial featuring a “tipsy” baby named Lindsay. Ms. Lohan and E*Trade reached a confidential out-of-court settlement that must have included a take-down provision since the video of the commercial is no longer available online.
But it’s not just d-listers and celebutants that have sued for unauthorized use of their image.
In 1984, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis obtained an injunction against Christian Dior from using a look-a-like in a print advertising campaign.
And in the mother of all cases, in 1993, Vanna White sued Samsung over an ad featuring a sequined dress-clad, blond-wigged, letter-turning robot. In an opinion remanding the case to the district court, the Ninth Circuit discussed celebrities’ rights to control their own images.
So what should Duchess Kate do? Or am I the only one who sees the resemblance?
Post your comments below and let me know what you think!