Are advertisers using unlicensed endorsements?

Is any of this legal?

Penn

This has been chronic in the Facebook news feed lately.  I’ve seen Hugh Jackman, Matt Damon, Sean Penn, and John Travolta featured so far in these ads for “men’s health products” all of which imply these movie stars are endorsing whatever secret ingredient or method is being pushed.  Click on the link, and Facebook warns the user the page they’re headed to “might be SPAM.”  Ya think?  Are these apparent endorsements unlicensed?  Probably.

I like this one in particular . . .

Travolta

That’s not Travolta’s head Photoshopped onto another guy’s body?

Unless these movie stars really are endorsing these products on terms they’ve agreed to for use of their names and likenesses, I hope their lawyers do something about it.  Because if millionaires who can afford to stop this kind of activity don’t defend their rights, what does that mean for us everyday folks when advertisers decide to use our personal images or names for unlicensed endorsements?  We’ve already seen this happen in a limited way. My news feed has told me things like a friend who’s a vegetarian “Likes” McDonalds, which is a little bit amusing except that it isn’t.  Now that advertising is embedded into the news feed, the line is a bit blurry between friends’ updates and paid sponsorships.  When the ad is clearly an ad, I don’t think it’s a problem, but I do think the anything goes, free-for-all is a problem.

Assuming these examples are the kind of sleazy false advertising they appear to be, Facebook is not responsible for creating the ad or boosting the celebrity likenesses; but if these ads are misleading and/or violating the celebrities’  rights, they do violate at least a few sections of Facebook’s own terms for advertising on its pages.  And if these ads do violate those terms, why are we seeing them?

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