Two film stars recently made news when they sought to restrain the release of movies purporting to associate themselves with these actors- the actors alleged that the movies were violating the ‘personality rights’ of the respective actors. (We had covered these developments in our posts here and here).
Personality rights or image rights are rights of a person who has acquired a celebrity status, to restrain others from commercially exploiting his name or image; this is because the celebrity or public figure has become a ‘brand’ in himself.
The most exploitative use of one’s personality rights is through endorsement of products and services. It is believed that actors earn far more money by signing endorsement contracts than they rake through films. This has led to a spurt in copyright litigation in the recent past where actors have sought injunctions against companies which wrongfully associate their products/services with the actors (in cases where there has been no endorsement contract between the company and the actor).
The reason why companies rope in big names to promote their brands is because of the influence that film stars or sportsmen wield over the public. Almost every brand today is fighting to get some of the top actors/sportsmen to endorse their products; while it may seem that it is only recently that actors have jumped onto the bandwagon to promote a gamut of products from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) to watches, you would be surprised to learn that actors were aware of their personality rights as far back as 1960s, as evidenced by this ad by Dilip Kumar for a certain brand of pickles.
Given that this was an era where Dilip Kumar was the heart throb of many a women, I am sure that those pickles would have sold like hot cakes.
Lux managed to rope in quite a few celebrities to advertise its brand, right from the ethereal Parveen Babi to the dancing queen Helen.
Famous sportsmen have also endorsed brands in the past. Here’s an ad by Kapil Dev for the BSA SLR cycle:
Personally, I would be more convinced to buy products of a brand endorsed by an actor back in the 1960s-1980s than buy beauty products endorsed by actors of today’s generation; this is because the actors of the yesteryears carried a charm which came from their natural beauty. This is in sharp contrast with the actors today who readily go under the knife to change the way they look, making it impossible for any ordinary person to believe that he/she too can attain their physical features without resorting to invasive medical procedures.
[Click here to see some more interesting vintage ads.]
[This post is part of SpicyIP’s series on Blast From the Past where we scour interesting IP related trivia from yesteryears. You can read the previous instalment on Pyaasa (1957) here, and if you know any interesting IP trivia, do let us know.]
H/T: We would like to thank Mr. Ameet Dutta of Sai Krishna & Associates for sending across this wonderful trivia to us.