If you use Michael Jordan’s name without his permission, you will pay dearly for it. Safeway found this out the hard way on Friday, when a federal court in Chicago ordered they pay Jordan $8.9 million for an ad for their now-defunct supermarket chain Dominick’s that used Jordan’s name.
From ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell:
Lawyers for Safeway, owner of now-defunct Chicago-based chain Dominick’s, said Jordan should be paid $126,900 for the use of his name in a 2009 ad Dominick’s placed in a commemorative issue Sports Illustrated published for Jordan’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But Jordan’s lawyers and Jordan himself testified that his endorsement history suggests he would not have taken that deal.
Jordan’s legal representatives brought in sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, who testified that Jordan’s fair market value for the ad was $10 million.
“I’m pleased with today’s verdict,” Jordan said in a statement. “No one — whether or not they’re a public figure — should have to worry about their identity being used without their permission. The case was not about the money as I plan to donate the proceeds to charity. It was about honesty and integrity. I hope this case sends a clear message, both here in the United States and around the world, that I will continue to be vigilant about protecting my name and identity. I also hope the size of the monetary reward will deter others from using someone else’s identity and believe they will only pay a small penalty.”
This is the ad in question:
Given the figures Jordan’s attorneys threw out there for how much money Jordan makes in endorsements (his team testified that he’s made $480 million since 2000), it’s very important to him to protect his brand, as it should be. Clearly, the name “Michael Jordan” is still a massive draw no matter what product it’s attached to. This has allowed Jordan to be selective about which products he endorses, and it’s allowed him to command $10 million per deal. Even for someone with as much money as Jordan, that isn’t to be taken lightly.