A bottled water brand popular among many Texas consumers is engaged in a legal battle with a model who has become known for her association with the company. Model Kelleth Cuthbert found her way into photos and videos at the 2019 Golden Globes by showing up behind celebrities on the red carpet while serving bottles of Fiji Water. Photos and videos featuring the model went viral on the internet, and she became known as "Fiji Water Girl." After the exposure, Fiji engaged in an online advertising campaign using Cuthbert's images with the water brand.
Cuthbert sued Fiji, saying that she was pressured into signing a fake contract with Fiji and that her image was being used without consent in the marketing campaign. Now, the company is returning fire; Fiji countersued Cuthbert for breach of contract. The water company said that the model and her representatives agreed to be paid $90,000 to serve as a brand ambassador for one year. She signed the documents while being video recorded at Fiji's office and allegedly agreed to the water company's use of her name and image, including in cardboard cutouts. The company said that the model took the only signed copy of the documents and destroyed them, but it retained the recording of the signing.
Cuthbert alleges that Fiji has made millions of dollars in promotional campaigns using her cardboard cutout, but the water company included documents showing her posing with the cutout herself. The model's lawyers demanded that the water company remove the cardboard likenesses from stores.
Contract disputes can be an unfortunate but all too common part of doing business. By working with a business and commercial law attorney, companies and individuals may work to develop contracts that protect each party's rights and take action in the case of a breach or other dispute.
Source: Complex, "Fiji Water Countersues 'Fiji Water Girl' for Breach of Contract", Tara Mahadevan, 02/08/2019