Friday 12 March 2010

How much is the use of "Lindsay" worth?

"Lindsay Lohan wants $100M over E-Trade ad" is the headline of an article by Kieran Crowley in the NY Post (thanks, Miri Frankel, for the link). The article reports that actress, model, singer and general purpose celebrity Lindsay Lohan is commencing legal proceedings against financial company E-Trade before the Nassau County Supreme Court. Ms Lohan maintains that a boyfriend-stealing, "milkaholic" baby in its latest commercial -- who happens to be named Lindsay -- was modelled on her. Damages of $100 million are sought for her pain and suffering.

The advertisement in question is part of a series starring babies who play the stock market. It depicts a boy apologizing to his girlfriend via video chat for not calling her the night before.
"And that milkaholic Lindsay wasn't over?" the baby girl asks him suspiciously. "Lindsay?" the boy replies, just before a baby girl sticks her head into the frame and slurs, "Milk-a-what?"

According to Stephanie Ovadia, the attorney acting for Ms Lohan, her client has the same single-name recognition as Oprah or Madonna: "Many celebrities are known by one name only, and E-Trade is using that knowledge to profit".

Without prejudice to the issue of liability, the interesting issue is the claim for damages and the basis of its assessment. While it is stated that "since the spot was seen by hundreds of millions of people watching the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics finals, the firm has garnered great profits". It does not appear however that an account of profits is sought. It would be good to see a judicial inquiry into damages, given Neil Wilkof's thoughtful piece on this blog earlier on the changing face of Super Bowl advertising. Maybe we would then get some guidance as to the quantification, in terms of profit, of advertising which both boosts immediate sales and -- to the extent that it still does so -- enriches the brand's equity.

In any event, the convenient and arbitrary figure of $100 million is sought, this being made up of $50 million in exemplary damages, plus another $50 million in compensatory damages. IP Finance looks forward to the next developments.

1 comment:

credit repaire said...

Now, as reported in on March 13, under the title "How Leibovitz Found New Partner for $24 Million Debt, Archive", a new financial actor has come on stage to assist Ms Leibovitz. According to the report, an LA-based private equity firm called Colony Capital reached agreement on March 8 with Art Capital.