Muhammad Ali Enterprises sues Fox for $30 million over Super Bowl promo
During its most recent Super Bowl broadcast, Fox aired a lengthy Muhammad Ali-themed ad that doubled as a tribute to past Super Bowl greats and an introduction to the Falcons-Patriots game.
Eight months later, Muhammad Ali Enterprises is suing Fox Broadcasting Co. for $30 million, claiming it used unauthorized representations of the legendary boxer.
“Fox obtained great value by using Muhammad Ali to promote itself. It should pay for what it took,” Frederick Sterling, an attorney for the firm of Schiff Hardin — lead counsel for Muhammad Ali Enterprises — said via Variety.
The $30 million figure is based on what Fox charged for ads to air during its Super Bowl LI broadcast. It cost $5 million for a 30-second spot to air during the game, and with this commercial running nearly three minutes, Fox could have charged $30 million, the lawsuit says.
“Fox’s unauthorized use of Ali’s identity, including his image and persona, in its promotional video was a false or misleading representation of fact that falsely implies Ali’s or MAE’s endorsement of Fox’s services,” thelawsuit states. “Fox’s promotional video uses Ali’s identity to promote Fox and its broadcast services. Fox could have sold the three minutes it used for its promotional video to other advertisers for $30 million.”
The lawsuit also demands “a permanent injunction requiring Fox to refrain from any use of Ali’s identity without prior authorization from MAE.”
The Anthony Mackie-narrated video spliced images from Ali’s boxing career and life as a public figure with images of past Super Bowl greats to set up the New England-Atlanta matchup.
While Ali is not the sole athlete featured throughout the video — images of John Elway, Jerry Rice and Tom Brady, among others, are also included — the spot’s theme is the boxer, who died June 3, 2016.
The law firm representing MAE recently prevailed in a case involving Michael Jordan, winning $8.9 million from Sports Illustrated for using Jordan’s identity without authorization for a commemorative issue.
Schiff Hardin is also involved in a case against Samsung regarding the company’s unauthorized use of soccer legend Pele in a commercial.
Broadcasting the first Super Bowl to reach overtime, the network pulled in $500 million in ad revenue during the game.
(H/T The Wild Card)