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Pelé sues Samsung for $30m after it used a lookalike following failed ad negotiations


By Tony Connelly, Sports Marketing Reporter

March 30, 2016 | 2 min read

Football legend Pelé has launched legal proceedings against Samsung, claiming that it used a lookalike in it one of its advertising campaigns last year.


The former Brazilian footballer filed a lawsuit against the Samsung in Chicago earlier this month after the company used a lookalike in a full-page ad published in the New York Times in October 2015 for its ultrahigh-definition TVs.

The South Korean company did not use Pelé’s name in the ad but featured a large portrait photograph of an elderly black man who “very closely resembles” him, in addition to a smaller picture of a footballer performing a “modified bicycle of scissors-kick, perfected and famously used by Pelé”, the complaint said.

The complaint argues that the ad could confuse customers and has impacted on the value of the 75 year-old’s endorsement rights. Much of Pelé’s income is generated through his endorsement deals with companies including Volkswagen, Subway, Emirates and Procter & Gamble.

According to Bloomberg Business, Pelé earned $25m In 2014 when Brazil hosted the World Cup and his value is expected to increase this year with the Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro.

The lawsuit is seeking $30m in compensation which Pelé’s attorney, Frederick Sperling, says would constitute “fair compensation for the unauthorised use of Pelé’s identity and to prevent future unauthorised uses”.

According to the complaint Samsung was in talks with Pelé in 2013 over an endorsement deal however it pulled out of negotiations at the last minute and “never obtained the right to use Pelé’s identity in any manner or in any format”.

Samsung has declined to comment on the issue.


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