Actor Sacha Baron Cohen, star of the hit show “Ali G” and Oscar-nominated film “Borat,” is pursuing legal action against cannabis dispensary Solar Therapeutics for using his satirical journalist persona on one of their ads. His popular “It’s Nice!” catchphrase was also used. The Borat ad was placed on a billboard in Massachusetts.
The lawsuit claims that Baron Cohen has never partaken in cannabis and would not advertise the plant, no matter the payout. His legal team is seeking around $9m in damages, but the company has yet to respond.
The legal proceeding was filed on Monday, July 12th, in Massachusetts. It accuses Solar Therapeutics of copyright infringement and false advertising. Baron Cohen’s legal team alleges the company “took a gamble” in using the actor and satirist’s likeness, thinking he’d never see it. The company, which seems to be promoting sustainable packaging and cultivation in cannabis, also wished customers a “Happy 4/20”
The star’s representative said Baron Cohen doesn’t believe in cannabis, which remains illegal in a myriad of states in the U.S., as a “healthy choice.” He continued on by saying Baron Cohen has never promoted any cannabis product in the UK or US in fear it would “weaken his credibility as an actor and as a serious social activist.” The actor’s persona is “of very significant commercial value” and he had previously turned down $4m to appear in a car ad, continued the representative. Unlike many other actors and celebrities who enjoy cannabis, Baron Cohen wants nothing to do with it. An image of the billboard, which was taken down by Solar Therapeutics, is included in the court documents reported by the Hollywood Reporter.
Baron Cohen’s lawyer David Condon stated, “With his ‘Ali G’ character, portrayed by Mr. Baron Cohen in the HBO television series Da Ali G Show, Mr. Baron Cohen has spent much of his career making a mockery of ‘stoner’ culture — a culture which the Defendants’ Billboard overtly celebrates.”
While Solar Therapeutics has not come out with a formal statement just yet, this is a clear-cut example as to why one should always clear the content with the celebrity’s team first before plastering their face on products or advertisements.