In Israel, George Clooney has become the focus of a lawsuit filed by food giant Nestlé against a smaller coffee company, Israeli Espresso Club. The actor is the face for Nespresso, seen in the ad below, a Nestle brand sold in Israel. The ads usually feature a well-dressed Clooney flirting with women.
Espresso Club made a spoof commercial (above) with a man who looks like Clooney, but with a disclaimer on screen telling people that it isn't the actor. Mocking the clothes and the flirting, the ad informs the lookalike, David Segal, about the other coffee brand.
Besides the salt-and-pepper hair, the two men don't look alike to the point of confusion, but the intentions of Espresso Club are obvious. Nespresso's lawsuit claims that the ads can be "misleading" for the consumers.
The lawsuit was originally filed two years ago at the Tel Aviv magistrate court, with Nestlé demanding US $50,000 and the withdrawal of the ad. It lost the case, and the court ruled instead that Nestlé should pay Espresso Club US $14,700 to cover the cost of the lawsuit. Nestlé has now appealed this ruling.
Espresso Club CEO Oren Tal was quoted by the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth as saying, "This is a flagship case for Nestle and so they will fight us to the end. I think the discussion on using doubles will reach all the way to the High Court, but their claims don’t make sense, so that’s why I think we’ll win. There is a whole genre in advertising of ads that relate to and make fun of their competitors."
A Nestlé spokesperson said the ad was not a form of fair competition.
"Nespresso invests a lot into building its brand and puts an emphasis on the quality of its product and professional customer service. Thus it’s natural that it would choose to protect its assets from attempts by others to ride on its reputation, and from attempts at imitation and misleading consumers," the Times of Israel quoted.