Remember Kelleth Cuthbert, the model who went viral as the “Fiji Water Girl” for photobombing celebs at the 2019 Golden Globes? Yeah, well, she’s now suing Fiji Water because we just can’t have nice things anymore.
That’s right. Kelly Steinbach, her real name (why the pseudonym?), has filed a lawsuit against the company that made her famous and is looking to cash in big time.
Why is Kelleth Cuthbert / Kelly Steinbach suing Fiji Water? Because, according to The Blast, Fiji Water and The Wonderful Company “created an unauthorized marketing campaign based off the viral sensation she created at the Golden Globes.”
How did they do that? They “intentionally created cardboard cutouts of Steinbach for use in a cardboard cutout marketing campaign.”
The cardboard cutouts were apparently used to push Fiji Water while capitalizing on the fame from the Golden Globes moment. The documents claim Fiji tried to offer “gifts to entice” the model to sign away her rights.
The suit also claims Fiji “pressured Steinbach into video recording a fake signing of a fake document to simulate Steinbach signing on as a Fiji Water Ambassador.” Her legal team says the document was not an agreement and was later destroyed by the model.
The documents argue that Fiji was aware that no agreement existed but still began using Steinbach’s image and likeness for profit.
According to the lawsuit, Steinbach / Cuthbert believes she generated more than $12 million worth of brand exposure for Fiji Water, wants them to stop using the cardboard cutouts of her, and to share some of that $12 million-plus she thinks she earned the company.
I have to say, if she didn’t legally agree to those cardboard cutouts, then she is definitely owed a big chunk of change from Fiji because before her, I almost forgot the company existed.
UPDATE: Statement from Fiji Water…
“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. We are confident that we will prevail in Court. Throughout our history, we have had a sterling reputation working with talent.”