Don’t use 50 Cent’s face and expect him to like it.
The G-Unit captain filed a lawsuit in federal court on Friday against a Philadelphia car dealership after it ran advertisements using his photo, calling it a misappropriation of his name and likeness. 50 is seeking damages of more than a million dollars.
“[Gary Barbera Enterprises’] misappropriation of [50’s] name, likeness and trademark in its advertising was unlawful and unauthorized, and upon information and belief, is likely to have caused confusion in the marketplace among consumers and among potential marketing and promotional partners of 50 Cent,” the suit reads, “all of whom are likely to believe that the Barbera advertising and car dealership are authorized or sponsored by 50 Cent.”
The car dealership said there’s a reasonable explanation for why it used the rapper’s image, though — 50 had participated in a car giveaway promotion conducted by local radio station WRDW in March and April, where the grand prize was to be a Dodge Magnum, just like the one 50 has in the Game’s “How We Do” video. 50 Cent recorded at least two audio promos; in one he says, “You’re now tuned in to the sounds of my man, Gary Barbera,” and in another he says, “Keep listening for a chance to win a Magnum, and no, I’m not talking about mine, I’m talking about Gary Barbera’s Magnum.”
The radio station forwarded 50’s audio to the car dealer, Gary Barbera Dodgeland’s marketing director Eric Gerstein said, to use in the ads, which read, “Just Like 50 Says!” next to the Dodge Magnum. When the dealer was contacted by the rapper’s reps in May, saying it used his likeness without permission, Gerstein said, “We thought, ‘Wait a minute.’ So we gave [50 Cent’s lawyers] the recording. We heard absolutely nothing from them, and thought the matter was closed, until today.
“I’m confused [by the suit],” Gerstein added. “You try to do something nice, and see what happens?”
— Jennifer Vineyard