50 Cent has made a run for the court order.
The Get Rich or Die Tryin’ rapper sued Taco Bell Corp. Wednesday for “diluting the value of his good name” with a guerilla ad campaign that he says was intended to fool the chalupa-craving masses into thinking he had endorsed the fast-food chain.
Last month, Fiddy’s camp called the gimmick a “sleazy and ill-conceived publicity stunt.”
“Without seeking or obtaining Jackson’s authorization, defendant Taco Bell made him the star and focus of its nationwide advertising campaign by using his name, persona and trademark to promote Taco Bell’s business and products,” stated the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Fiddy’s beef originated with the restaurant’s “Why Pay More” campaign, a part of which involved Taco Bell suggesting in writing that the hip-hop star, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, change his name to 79, 89 or 99 Cent to help promote its penny-saving deals.
“We know that you adopted the name 50 Cent years ago as a metaphor for change,” the letter read. “We at Taco Bell are also huge advocates for change. We encourage you to ‘Think Outside the Bun’ and hope you accept our offer.”
Meanwhile, the lawsuit alleges that Taco Bell skirted 50 Cent’s usual multimillion-dollar fee for promotional deals and, although he eventually received a copy of the name-change letter, the communiqué was first distributed to the media.
“As Taco Bell intended, many customers believed that 50 Cent had agreed to endorse Taco Bell’s products. Indeed, postings on numerous Internet ‘blogs’ castigated 50 Cent for ‘selling out’ by his apparent endorsement of Taco Bell,” the complaint continued.
50 Cent’s attorney said that his client is seeking about $4 million in damages.
Yum! Brands Inc., which owns the Taco Bell brand, along with KFC, Pizza Hut and several other familiar drive-thru-type establishments, has not commented on the suit. A Taco Bell spokesman said he had not yet seen the documents.