Are there rules for using images of public figures?

Can a picture of a known personality or the name of a major event really be used to promote your product or service? I believe that to most of us a logical answer is »of course not«. However, examples of such practices can be observed on a regular basis, most often on social media, which have become a convenient channel for targeting a wide variety of target groups.

Even though »ambush marketing« and the use of personal rights of an individual are phenomena with which especially the legal profession is engaged, public relations and marketing are in no way immune. After all, we are the ones who are planning communication campaigns and vision cooperation with individuals, teams etc.

If we are targeting a group of people linked by love to basketball, why not use Luke Dončić’s name or photo? If we want to talk to film or fashion lovers, why not use Katarina Čas at the campaign? The answer is simple. Because we are talking about the use of personality rights that are inalienable, as in the interview for the Marketing magazine, Blaž Tomažin Bolcar, an expert on sports law, explains. Of course, we assume that with the person we use in the campaign, we do not have an agreement on cooperation and use of his image, names and other elements that fall within the framework of personality rights. If we do have and agreement regarding cooperation, we have to use the person the correct way.

Space for improvement

In Slovenia there is enormous room for progress in the area of ​​proper use of the image of individuals and a large part of the responsibility for proper regulation of this field is carried out by experts in public relations and marketing. We need to know the rules of using the image of individuals, if we are talking about the field of sport also of teams, and we need to use the knowledge in the planning of communication campaigns. In doing so, we must actively participate in the preparation of cooperation agreements that are the subject of the sponsorship contract itself, because only by knowing the provisions we can effectively and in accordance with the agreement, prepare campaigns that will increase the reputation of both the company and the individual involved in it. Even if our company does not sponsor individuals, teams or is a partner of events, we need to be familiar with the rules on the use of titles and personality rights of individuals, because otherwise we can put our company in serious trouble.

The necessity of professionalism in this field therefore applies both to communication professionals in companies as well as those who take care of the communication of well-known individuals or groups in various fields – sport, culture, fashion … Violation of personality rights and ambush marketing, expressed most commonly with the use of a name of a larger event by stakeholders who are not an official partner, is not in the interest of any party. As communicators, we must therefore monitor the environment with open eyes and draw attention to irregularities, thereby raising awareness of the importance of the proper use of personality rights and raising the level of professionalism of communication.

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