Katherine Heigl Reportedly Sues Duane Reade for Photo Use
Thanks to Twitter, $6 million is reportedly on the line. According to a TMZ report, Katherine Heigl has filed a lawsuit against Duane Reade, Inc., a chain of pharmacy and convenience stores located primarily in New York City. The complaint alleges that the company appropriated her name and image to endorse their stores despite her "strenuous objections" and Heigl feels she is due no less than $6 million. The endorsement was done via a tweet from Duane Reade on March 18, reading, "Love a quick #DuaneReade run? Even @KatieHeigl can't resist shopping #NYC's favorite drugstore."
Neither Heigl nor Duane Reade, Inc. have commented on the story, but Heigl's complaint isn't without merit. Appropriation is a serious concern for celebrities. In 2008, Brenda Song had to file a lawsuit against an escort company that had plastered her face all over their advertisements. Kim Kardashian settled a lawsuit with Old Navy in 2012 over their use of a look-a-like in their advertisements. Using a celebrity's likeness to push your product without their consent is liable to get you in a lot of hot water.
In Duane Reade's defense, Heigl's photo wasn't misinterpreted as an advertisement. It's not like they took a picture of her and plastered their company name all over it for a national ad campaign.
The photo in the tweet is a paparazzi shot from Just Jared which features Heigl genuinely walking around with two large Duane Reade bags. It's not exactly false advertising to say that she has shopped there. They even link to the Just Jared article that mentions Heigl's shopping trip to Duane Reade and mentioned her in the Tweet as if to make absolutely sure that she was aware of what they had said and why they had said it. With all those precautions being taken, this lawsuit must have come out of left field for them.
If it's true, it's hard to make a decision on who's really in the wrong here. Being a celebrity is a job just like anything else and advertisement campaigns is one of the many ways they earn their salary. Unwarranted use of their personal likeness and fame to push any product is wrong, but whether this truly counts as advertisement or genuine reporting is a matter of debate. Heigl's case could suffer from the fact that she's the one carrying the Duane Reade bags in the paparazzi photos, but Duane Reade could also take heat for saying that she "can't resist" shopping with them. Either way, leave it to Twitter to cause another controversy.