Audi pays out to Tom Waits after ad chicanery

Be the first to comment

LONDON - American singer Tom Waits has successfully sued Volkswagen-Audi and a Spanish production company for adapting one of his songs and impersonating his voice in an Audi ad aired in 2000 in Spain.

A Spanish court awarded the singer, who has said his music will never be used in advertising, damages of €36,000 (£24,700) for copyright infringement and €30,000 for violation of his moral rights, which protect a person's personality and reputation.

Waits claimed he had rejected a request by Spanish production company Tandem Company Guasch to use his song 'Innocent When You Dream' in the ad, but then learned of the doppelganger version when visiting Spain in 2000.

The production company was also named in the lawsuit.

Waits said: "Now they understand the words to the song better. It wasn't 'Innocent When You Dream', it was 'Innocent When You Scheme'."

The singer has a similar lawsuit pending in Germany, against General Motors company Opel and ad agency McCann Erickson.

Opel also used a Waits impersonator in an ad that aired in Finland and Sweden.

Waits said: "Commercials are an unnatural use of my work. It's like having a cow's udder sewn to the side of my face. Painful and humiliating."

Last year, the singer said: "If I stole an Opel, Lancia, or Audi, put my name on it and resold it, I'd go to jail. But over there they ask, you say no, and they hire impersonators. They profit from the association and I lose -- time, money, and credibility. What's that about?"

Advertisers should know by now that Waits will sue. In 1993, he won £2m from Frito-Lay for mimicking his voice in radio ads.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum.