Thinking Outside the Bun Leads to Legal Action The Story of 50 Cent vs. Taco Bell
— filed a federal lawsuit saying they featured the rapper in an ad campaign without his permission and profited directly from his celebrity status without paying him a multimillion-dollar fee. Raymond said his client sought $4 million in damages.
In 2008, rapper 50 Cent filed an unlikely lawsuit against the fast- food chain Taco Bell. Was it an endorsement deal gone wrong? Quite the opposite. According to the rapper, the company had implied an endorsement deal in the media when there was none. Taco Bell, known for their quirky and humorous ads, had released a print ad formatted as a faux “letter” to 50 Cent, requesting that 50 Cent change his name to 79, 89, or 99 Cent as a part of their latest promotion. The letter reached the national press and even television … except for 50 Cent’s actual mailbox. In fact, 50 Cent had no idea Taco Bell used his name. By releasing the letter, 50 Cent became the face of Taco Bell’s whole campaign, too. The letter was part of a larger hip hop-themed campaign, and customers could go to the Taco Bell website and participate in a “Rap Name Creator” to discover their rap name. They also had a “Why Pay Mo’ Rhyme Generator” that played hip hop music and a montage of “hip hop-themed scenes,” according to the rapper’s lawyer, Peter D. Raymond.
In response, Taco Bell Corp. spokesman Rob Poetsch issued a statement saying: “We made a good faith, charitable offer to 50 Cent to change his name to either 79, 89 or 99 Cent for one day by rapping his order at a Taco Bell, and we would have been very pleased to make the $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice.” In the end, both sides settled, keeping the terms of the settlement confidential and paying their own legal fees. So, it’s possible that 50 Cent was paid after all, but we’ll never know the exact terms of their legal agreement, except “both sides are satisfied,” according to Raymond. Since then, more companies have been careful about using celebrity names in their marketing without permission. It pays to think inside the bun, after all.
As soon as 50 Cent found out about the letter on the news, he wasn’t happy. On July 23, 2008, 50 Cent — whose real name is Curtis Jackson
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Step 2: Consider hiring an attorney.
• Legal representation. If you have an attorney — and a debt collector knows this — they aren’t allowed to contact you. They must contact your attorney instead. If you are called by a debt collector while you have legal representation, make sure to give them your attorney’s information. When a debt collector calls, they should identify themselves as a debt collector. Afterwards, they’re required to state the amount owed, that you can dispute the debt, and that you can request the name and address of the original creditor (if different from the current
You may want an attorney as soon as you can, so you can receive the best guidance possible. A lawyer will be your advocate when collectors engage in harassment or communication that is abusive, threatening, or deceptive. What is harassment? It includes using profane language; threatening bodily harm; misrepresenting what you owe; making false claims that you could be arrested; threatening your property; making repeated attempts to contact you or calling you anonymously; or, as mentioned earlier, failing to state debt and creditor information on the call as required by FDCPA.
creditor). They should also tell you that any information provided to them in your calls, emails, or other communication will be used in their efforts to collect the debt. There are even more restrictions on who they can call, so make sure to research for yourself if your loved ones begin receiving calls from your debtor.
Step 3: Report any violations to the FTC.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an online website for reporting FDCPA violations, but your attorney can help with this as well. Take a look at FTCComplaintAssistant.com . We hope this helps our readers to stay safe from abusive collectors. Although debt can make us feel vulnerable, never forget that you do have rights.
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