Monday, May 12, 2008

Pop goes the weasel

I like Uma Thurman. Not because she is astonishingly beautiful and seems very smart but because she reminds me of Zoë, my daugther. Smart and beautiful.

The word is that Uma is suing Lancome, the cosmetics giant, for 15 million US dollars. Thurman was engaged by the firm to be the face of the brand. When her contract expired Lancome allegedly continued to use her image in Asian and Canadian markets.


Negotiating contracts is one of the areas that either save money, make money or cost money for agencies. It makes me think of the producers I work with. Our business probably hire more talent than any other in New Zealand, certainly offering more regular work than non-speaking featured extra work than most talent might get - if they are lucky.

Negotiating with talent is like buying a house. The time you profit is when you make the deal.

There are a few points I would make:

1. Be clear.

If you intend to use the commercial on the Internet - even if you are going to upload it to YouTube - make sure your contract covers that form of use.

2. Be honest.

Don't be tricky. If you think screwing talent to fit into a budget or for short term gain is good idea, think again - you are going to make trouble for you and your client.

3. If you re-use material in the future…

Expect a bill.

Lancome have countered-sued Thurman claiming it was unintended.
Puh-lease. Give me a break. How much attention did they pay to the details of the contract? A lot I am guessing.

I worked on the launch of Pepsi in New Zealand at the height of the Cola Wars in the 1980s - we had a sensational battery of celebrity TVC's: Micheal Jackson and Cindy Crawford et al. We couldn't use the commercials because the cost of the roll-overs could never be carried in our tiny market.

I was rooting for Ms Crawford.

But you can't always get what you want. Unless you put it in the contract to begin with.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe that in 2008 ad agencies are still negotiating contracts that don't cover usage on the internet.

    Sounds dumb I know, but it is still happening!


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