Photo by our friends at The Poor Man’s Guide To Alcohol

Another User-Generated Content (UGC) Campaign Gone Wrong

Imagine walking into a restaurant with friends and colleagues, everyone taking their seats at a table and, on queue, your server arrives and drops a couple of coasters at your table before taking drink orders. Then, wait a minute…

“Why is there a picture of me with a fake mustache drinking a Natty Light on the the coaster in front of me and my colleagues???”

We couldn’t imagine it either since we don’t drink much Natty Light here at BYLINED, but that’s exactly what happened to Kayla Kraft. Kayla found her photo, on a coaster, fake-mustachioed, sipping on a bottle of Natural Light as part of the “Every Natty Has a Story” campaign.

Kayla apparently didn’t want her story to be a part of their story, and as a result, sued Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Natural Light beer, for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.

“Defendants reproduced, distributed, and publicly displayed the Kraft photograph without the authorization or consent of Kraft or (her friend), and have created unauthorized derivative works incorporating the Kraft photograph,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants have engaged in a widespread pattern and practice of misappropriating the names and likeness of others for commercial purposes without permission or compensation.”

According to press reports, Anheuser-Busch says that Kraft’s picture was submitted as a contest entry and the content rules grant Anheuser-Busch a license to use the UGC in any and all media for any purpose.

It will be interesting to see how this case evolves and is eventually decided. It also serves as a reminder to brands the importance of explicit user consent when using user-generated content in promotional campaigns.

Also, hat-tip to our friend and advisor, Shaun Pannell, for making us aware of this real case.