Michael Jordan wants $10 million from two grocery stores — bagged and carried out to his car — that he says used his identity without permission in ads published in a commemorative Sports Illustrated issue, “Jordan: A Hall of Fame Career.”
In the pair of lawsuits filed in Chicago court, Jordan says Dominick’s Finer Foods and Jewel Food Stores took their Hall of Fame congratulations a little too far.
According to the suit, the Dominick’s ad features MJ’s name with the phrase “You are a cut above” and a photo of a steak. (Witty!) Below the congratulations is an ad for $2 off a Rancher’s Reserve steak, a trademark of Dominick’s parent Safeway.
The mesquite-flavored kicker: There are already two steakhouses and an online steak company named after Jordan. As Matt Bortosik at NBA Chicago points out, there is absolutely no way Jordan would want to sell steaks in direct conflict with his restaurants and companies.
In the Jewel ad, a pair of Jordan’s Air Jordan basketball shoes with number 23 on the tongues sit below a message of support that ends with Jewel’s friendly “just around the corner” slogan. Apparently, the picture is an “inaccurate and misleading copy” of his famous Nike kicks.
Jordan seeks $5 million from each grocery store for false endorsement, consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and unfair competition.
While it’d be easy to cynically joke about Michael Jordan, of all people, needing more money, it doesn’t mean he should allow himself to be advertised unknowingly. Congratulatory or not, Dominick’s and Jewel’s advertising departments appear to be at fault.
But hey, if either supermarket chain wants to run a full-page magazine to commemorate The Basketball Jones’ 500th episode, by all means, knock yourself out. Might I suggest a Canadian bacon angle?