Model Kelleth Cuthbert – real surname Steinbach – rose to international fame while working for event sponsors Fiji Water at the annual awards ceremony, photobombing the likes of Richard Madden and Jim Carrey.
She subsequently became known as ‘Fiji Water Girl’, after the images went viral on social media.
However, in an unexpected turn of events, she is claiming the company used her image as a marketing campaign without her consent, in the form of cardboard cut-outs.
The company “intentionally created cardboard cut-outs of Steinbach for use in a cardboard cutout marketing campaign”, according to legal documents obtained by US publication The Blast.
So the Fiji water people did this to my neighborhood grocery store. pic.twitter.com/0DsmfXMwUq
— Travon Free (@Travon) January 11, 2019
The cut-outs, said to have been created the day after the Golden Globes, were subsequently spotted at various supermarkets in West Hollywood.
The model, who is reportedly suing both The Fiji Company and the brand’s marketing partners, The Wonderful Company, believes she has generated over $12 million (£9.1 million) in brand exposure for the company.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) January 7, 2019
In a statement to The Blast, Fiji Water called the law suit “frivolous”.
A spokesperson said: “This lawsuit is frivolous and entirely without merit. After the Golden Globes social media moment, we negotiated a generous agreement with Ms. Cuthbert that she blatantly violated.”
Fiji adds, “We are confident that we will prevail in Court. Throughout our history, we have had a sterling reputation working with talent.”
Not everyone was amused by Kelleth’s stunt at the Golden Globes.
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis criticised the “blatant promotion” on her Instagram account. She argued the event sponsors should have got her permission for picturing celebrities next to their products.
Fiji Water has not yet responded to Yahoo UK‘s request for comment.
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