South African singer PJ Powers, especially popular among the lesbian community, is taking legal action after a major advertising agency used her name in an ad campaign without her permission.
In the campaign, which was posted in public toilets and on billboards around Gauteng, Power’s name, along with a host of sporting celebrities, was used without her knowledge or consent.
“As one of South Africa’s musical icons, her name carries instant recognisability and therefore has immense value,” says her publicity company.
In addition, says Red Flag Design and Marketing, the campaign portrays Powers in a derogatory light and trades on her celebrity in order to promote a commercial brand.
“This type of unauthorized use of a celebrity’s name or likeness is not new, but more recently a number of prominent celebrities and national icons have been cracking down on advertisers and manufacturers who try and secure commercial gain off the value related to celebrity images and names,” says Lara Preston, CEO of Red Flag.
Powers describes the action as “the last resort after amicable attempts to settle the matter have failed.” According to Red Flag, Powers has been in contact with the advertising agency to express her concern and to ask for compensation or to cease using her name in this fashion, however the ad continued to be used for some time, although it has since been discontinued.
According to the singer’s attorney, Michael Judin, all attempts to settle the matter have been unsuccessful and he confirmed that action is being instituted against HerdBouys Mcann-Erikson. Expert counsel has apparently been brought in to draw up the summons.
Powers explains that, “the reason I’m pursuing this is because I think it’s incredibly arrogant of companies to think they can just use someone’s name without their permission. They know what they did was wrong. My name is my brand – like any other. It sets a precedent that artists can just be used any way these companies see fit. If I don’t do this, companies will simply continue to exploit artists in this manner.”
This case is set to garner significant media attention, but, according to Preston, “this case is not about the money, but rather it is the principle in regards to the ownership and control of her own name. A portion of the proceeds that she is suing for, will in fact, be donated to charity.”