Written By Cyrus Langhorne
Multi-platinum rapper 50 Cent is suing Taco Bell for over $1 million due to the company’s unauthorized usage of his name, trademarks, and overall persona in their national advertising campaign.
According to Dow Jones, the lawsuit was filed Wednesday (July 23) in Manhattan claiming the fast food chain presented a fake letter asking 50, born Curtis Jackson, to change his name to “79 Cent,” “89 Cent” or “99 Cent” for their Why Pay More Value Menu to the media before it reached the rapper.
It accuses Taco Bell of allowing the G-Unit leader’s name to circulate amongst national media giving the restaurant additional exposure without his approval.
“Thus, without authorization, Taco Bell traded on the name of the world’s biggest hip-hop star to draw attention to its new hip-hop based advertising campaign,” it read. “[A]nd thereby generated massive publicity for its business.”
The company’s campaign featured various hip-hop themed advertisements including a “Rap Name Creator” allowing consumers the chance to view their own rap name along with a “Why Pay Mo’ Rhyme Generator” that displayed various hip-hop music and images.
Claiming that Taco Bell knew they could not afford 50’s price for endorsement, the lawsuit also accuses them of intentionally making the endorsement and benefiting from its open exposure.
“Taco Bell knew that it would likely have had to pay Jackson a multi-million dollar fee to get his endorsement, even if he had agreed to do it—which is in doubt,” it read. “Rather than face rejection or pay fair value, Taco Bell chose to steal his endorsement and to enjoy all the publicity of being associated with a mega-star while bearing none of the costs.”
Damages to 50’s reputation include his appearance of “selling out” due to consumers believing he may have, in fact, endorsed the Taco Bell campaign.