The viral story nobody asked for seems to have taken yet another twist in its strangely prolonged tale.
It all started at the 76th Golden Globe Awards in January this year, when Kelleth Cuthbert – known as ‘Fiji Water Girl’ – became an overnight viral meme, by appearing in the background of countless photos of celebs while holding a tray of Fiji Water.
So far, so very modern marketing.
However, the model, whose real name is Kelly Steinbach, then said she was suing Fiji Water, after they allegedly created an unauthorised marketing campaign based off the viral sensation she fronted.
However, in the latest update, it seems Fiji Water and its parent company, Wonderful Company, have filed a countersuit against the Fiji Water Girl, claiming breach of contract and false promise.
They’re also reportedly seeking compensatory damages from the model, as well as a dismissal of her original complaint, according to E! News.
A statement from the company reads:
This action arises from simple greed on the part of cross-defendant Kelly Steinbach (professionally known as Kelleth Cuthbert) and her agents.
Ms. Steinbach reneged on the valid agreement between herself and Fiji to serve as a Fiji Water Brand Ambassador and permit Fiji to use her likeness in its related advertising campaign, and instead, attempted to extort close to half a million dollars from Fiji because she wanted a better deal than the original $90,000 she had originally accepted in exchange for such rights.
— E! News (@enews) January 7, 2019
Responding to the countersuit, a lawyer for Steinbach said it was ‘an obvious publicity stunt to counter revelations of Fiji Water’s unlawful actions,’ and added the model ‘will not be bullied by Fiji Water, the Wonderful Company, or its billionaire owners’.
The lawyer’s statement said:
Fiji Water has never paid Kelleth and there was not an agreement, not an email agreement or fake document agreement.
Fiji Water created cardboard cutouts of Kelleth to advertise and market their product. Fiji Water profited from using Kelleth’s image without consent and she is legally entitled to damages and profits from the use of her image.
Fiji Water’s complaint is meritless and Kelleth is confident she will prevail in court.
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