Back in the early 1990s, I used to think Taster’s Choice instant coffee was a pretty cool brand. It was tasty, plus they had those intriguing will-they-won’t-they commercials with gorgeous Brit actors Anthony Stewart Head (who later became Buffy’s watcher on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Sharon Maughan.
But now parent company Nestlé has been ordered by a jury to fork over $15.6 million for using a male model’s image on the Taster’s Choice coffee labels without his permission. Apparently, Russell Christoff had taken part in a two-hour photo shoot for Nestlé back in 1986 and never heard anything more from the company. But in 2002, Christoff (finally!) saw a Taster’s Choice jar with his mug on it. (I guess Christoff doesn’t get out much.) A legal battle ensued. First, Christoff turned down Nestlé’s $100,000 settlement offer. Then Nestlé turned down Christoff’s $8.5 million offer. In then end, Christoff’s $15.6 million award includes 5 percent of Nestlé’s profits from Taster’s Choice sales from 1997 to 2003.
Truly a victory for male models everywhere.
—Posted by Lisa van der Pool