A couple of weeks ago, I bitterly complained about Robert DeNiro and his shilling for American Express. Now I see Steve McQueen selling the 2005 Mustang in a commercial before a movie (well, actually, in a commercial running before the lights go down, so a commerical before the commercials). This is odd, because McQueen died in 1980. McQueen has been digitally added to the commercial, where he emerges from a cornfield, climbs into a car and drives off. I believe I’ve seen a similar ad using vintage footage of Frank Sinatra.
Things have gotten truly out of hand when the estates of dead actors are using their moving image to sell cars. When you deconstruct it, the notion is hilarious–it’s a celebrity endorsing a product from the next life. But then, why stop at entertainers?
Hi, I’m Adolf Hitler. When I’m burning in the eternal fires of Hell, I quench my thirst with Pepsi Edge. All of the taste and half the carbs!
I wonder how estate law applies here. If I’m a celebrity, can I include a rider in my will that ensures my estate can’t exploit my image? How solid will that be, when the only people left are the people seeking to benefit from my image? Things will get more complex when (if it ever happens, which seems unlikely), McQueen’s films enter the public domain.