Social media influencers can give brands a big boost by sharing a post with their followers.
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But what if brands don’t like what influencers have to say about them?
European fashion designer Philipp Plein has engaged in a war of words with Ferrari this week after he said he received a letter from Ferrari’s lawyers demanding that he take down a post that showed sneakers on the hoods of two parked Ferraris.
“Ferrari’s trademarks and model cars are associated in your pictures with a lifestyle totally inconsistent with Ferrari’s brand perception, in connection with performers making sexual innuendos and using Ferrari’s cars as props in a manner which is per se distasteful,” a portion of the letter Plein posted on Instagram states.
“This behavior tarnishes the reputation of Ferrari’s brands and causes Ferrari further material damage,” the letter continues. “In fact, the undesired connection between Ferrari’s trademarks on the one hand, and Philipp Plein’s line of shoes (and the questionable manner in which they are promoted) on the other hand, is interfering negatively with the rights enjoyed by Ferrari’s selected licensees which are exclusively entitled to use Ferrari’s trademarks to product and promote line of shoes Ferrari branded.”
The letter concluded by threatening legal action and demanding that Plein take down the post within 48 hours.
Plein appeared ready to fight the demand, writing that he’d bought the cars with his own money and posted them on his personal Instagram account.
“I can’t even put in words how disappointed and disgusted I am about this unfair and totally inappropriate claim against me personally,” he wrote, adding that he loves cars, especially Ferraris.
Plein followed up by posting another screengrab of the letter with a clown on it and a photo of himself posing in front of a Ferrari, calling the demand “blackmail.”
“My lawyers will go hard and I will make every step public until FERRARI stops bullying their clients,” Plein wrote in another post.
Neither Ferrari nor the law firm, Orsingher Ortu, immediately responded to FOX Business’ inquiries about the controversy.
The Italian firm specializes in intellectual property, media and technology issues, and it appears to have handled social media influencer cases before. When Alitalia faced an investigation into whether it had improperly advertised through social media, Orsingher Ortu worked on the case, according to Italian media reports. The Italian antitrust probe reportedly wrapped up in June without finding any wrongdoing.