On September 28th of last year, the online supermarket startup Picnic posted a little video on their Facebook page in which an actor that strongly resembled Max Verstappen delivered groceries for the company. This was aimed ludically at an advertising campaign that Verstappen did for supermarket Jumbo, in which he performed similar actions. After being indicted by Verstappen for a lawsuit based on image rights and subsequently losing, Picnic has made a statement.
Michiel Muller, one of Picnic’s founders, stated the following: “It was a playful video, only aimed at our own employees. It was only posted on our Facebook page. When we learned that Max Verstappen was not happy about it, we immediately deleted the video. We cannot imagine the losses of Verstappen being as high as he claims.” Startup Picnic offers an online grocery delivery service. The delivery is free and the prices of products are as low as possible. Customers can also use the Picnic app on their smartphones to track the status of their delivery. Recently, 100 million euros were invested in Picnic by four investors: NPM Capital, Hoyberg, Finci and De Hoge Dennen.
First, the court has stated that the commercial violated the image rights of Verstappen, even though Picnic used a lookalike. The actor displayed all characteristics of his image: the cap, the racing outfit, the same color of hair, the same silhouette and the same posture. Secondly, the court decided that Verstappen’s resistance to Picnic using his image is a more important factor than Picnic’s right to freedom of speech. Verstappen has to be able to decide for himself whether he uses his popularity for commercial activities. The video is an expression that commercially exploites the image of Verstappen.
While Verstappen demanded a compensation of 350.000 euros, the court found this demand to be insufficiently reasoned. The driver and his management have until October 18th to support and motivate their claim. And while Picnic is very disappointed about the verdict, the company has stated that they will continue to be a fan of Verstappen.
Max Verstappen image by Shutterstock