Clint Eastwood Says No to CBD Endorsement Scandal
Famous Hollywood Actor and Directors lawsuit with multiple CBD companies.
Longtime Hollywood actor/director has developed a durable legacy playing tough guy antiheros in films like Dirty Harry and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Segueing into directing, he’s also developed a strong reputation for thoughtful, actor-led dramas such as Unforgiven, Mystic River and his latest, Cry Macho. So it must have come as quite a shock for some people to get an email two years ago posting a screengrab from the Today Show declaring that Eastwood was quitting the film industry to focus full-time on promoting his own CBD wellness products, a move that Eastwood, apparently, did not authorize.
So Eastwood and Garrapata, the company that owns his iconic brand and image, did what most would expect him to do — to fight back with two lawsuits, aimed initially at three CBD companies and 10 online retailers which he accused of illegally using his likeness to sell their products. In January, Eastwood’s lawyers filed an amended complaint to go after the company which hosted the websites hosting the disputed content. This company, a Lithuanian enterprise named Mediatonas UAB, was ordered in early October to pay $6.1 million dollars in damages to Eastwood and Garrapata, and was restricted from using Eastwood’s name and likeness in any future promotional campaigns.
Eastwood, who according to representative Michael Sitrick has no opinion on either the CBD industry in general or CBD itself, is particularly about the sorts of endeavors he chooses to endorse. “With rare exception, Mr. Eastwood reserves the exploitation of his personality rights and the goodwill associated therewith for his motion pictures and other entertainment related projects, and for business ventures in which he is personally involved,” his lawyers declared. In addition, Eastwood also filed another lawsuit in January against the US company Norok Innovations Inc. and its CEO. This case accuses Norok of manipulating SEO to link Eastwood’s name to CBD through manipulation of metatag data. This case is still ongoing.
Eastwood is not the first celebrity whose endorsement has been falsely claimed by less scrupulous actors in the CBD industry. Two years ago, Tom Hanks took to Instagram to inveigh against a product that had claimed he was “feeling like a new me” after using their products. In their defense, some of these companies have responded by saying that they, too, are falling prey to marketing schemes executed without their consent. Sera Labs, one of the companies cited in the Eastwood lawsuit, said in a statement published last year that one of the co-defendants in the suit had altered advertising Sera had commissioned from them “and shut down the ads immediately after learning that they used Eastwood’s name and likeness.” California Naturals CBD, a California-based company initially confused for the Cali Naturals which posted the Hanks ad, mentioned to Marijuana Moment, that online scammers have routinely used their name in a fashion similar to the celebrities in question.
CBD has found a reliable market among senior citizens, so it’s not surprising that some CBD companies would attempt to build their brands through association with trusted generational celebrities. According to a survey conducted by New Frontier Data, while only about 14% of the respondents above the age of 55 had tried CBD, 46% of those 55 and older said they used it at least once a week, as opposed to 31% of those in the 18-34 age range. It’s also a massive market - about 95 million people -and according to Mike Luce, whose company High Yield polled over 13,000 senior citizens about CBD, they place high stock in “the halo that’s granted to information… from existing, trusted sources.” Small wonder that you can still find websites for “Tom Hanks CBD Oil” two years after Hanks posted his last online advisory.
Such shenanigans probably factored into the UN Office on Drugs and Crime advising for “a comprehensive ban on advertising” on cannabis products in this year’s Global Drug Report. Speaking more directly to CBD, it advised, “A clear distinction must be made among the effective medical uses of cannabis products for some ailments, the use of cannabis products such as CBD in the so-called wellness industry and the consequences of the non-medical use of cannabis.” However, these statements do not have the full weight of law and are only meant to serve as guidance for member nations.
As for Eastwood, while his team failed to win on defamation claims, and certainly didn’t get the $30 million they initially sought, they appeared happy with their lawsuit’s outcome. As Eastwood told Rolling Stone after the ruling, “I am pleased with the Court’s ruling, and believe this judgment sends a powerful message to other online scammers who might try to illegally use someone’s name and reputation to sell their products.”