Fiji Water Girl Kelleth Cuthbert is suing the company that helped make her famous for allegedly using her likeness in a marketing campaign without her consent.
According to documents obtained by The Blast, just a month after she found overnight success thanks to her celebrity photobombs on the Golden Globes red carpet, Cuthbert is taking legal action against Fiji Water and its parent company, The Wonderful Company, after they created an unauthorized marketing campaign around her viral Golden Globes moment without her consent.
In the court documents, Cuthbert, whose real name is Kelly Steinbach, alleges that on Feb. 7, just one day after the viral moment, Fiji Water “intentionally created cardboard cutouts of Steinbach for use in a cardboard cutout marketing campaign.”
On Jan. 8, Fiji Water attempted to negotiate an agreement with Cuthbert’s agent, but the cardboard cutouts had already been placed, with one cutout appearing in a photo of John Legend's as he left Bristol Farms in West Hollywood.
Cuthbert alleges that Fiji Water offered her “gifts to entice” her permission and “pressured Steinbach into video recording a fake signing of a fake document to simulate Steinbach signing on as a Fiji Water Ambassador.”
According to her legal team, the documents were not an agreement and Cuthbert eventually destroyed them. The documents also allege that Fiji Water continued to use the cardboard cutouts and capitalizing on Cuthbert’s image and likeness despite knowing that the documents were not official. She estimates that she generated more than $12 million worth of brand exposure.
Cuthbert is requesting that the company stop using the cardboard cutouts and pay her for monetary damages.
In a statement to the outlet, Fiji Water dubbed the lawsuit “frivolous.”
“This lawsuit is frivolous and entirely without merit. After the Golden Globes social media moment, we negotiated a generous agreement with Ms. Cuthbert that she blatantly violated,” the statement read. “We are confident that we will prevail in Court. Throughout our history, we have had a sterling reputation working with talent.”0comments
Cuthbert’s viral fame was sparked on Jan. 6 when she accidentally photobombed a number of celebrities at the Golden Globes while promoting Fiji Water. Her photobombs included Idris Elba, Eric Lange, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tony Shalhoub.
Along with becoming one of the most talked about people walking the red carpet that night, the stunt also earned her a role on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful. Her episode will air on Wednesday, Feb. 6.