Melania Trump is not the least bit flattered by billboards in Croatia that were using her image to advertise for English classes. The billboards featured her picture next to the catchphrase, “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English.” She was reportedly so offended by the advertisement that her Slovenian lawyers stepped in and forced the English language school to take them down.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 19, 2017
The American Institute in Zagreb insists that they in no way meant the billboard to mock the first lady. Ivis Buric, a spokesperson for the school, said the ad campaign was meant to be positive and was actually “very successful” as it did manage to attract quite a bit of attention.
“There are different opinions about Melania Trump, but the fact is that she is the first lady,” Buric said. “She had to do a lot, including delivering speeches in English and addressing huge crowds in a foreign language.”
“It is a positive campaign, nothing negative,” Buric added.
As of Tuesday, the billboards that had displayed the ads were blank. Natasa Pirc-Musar, Trump’s lawyer, said she is “satisfied with the fact that the school admitted that they violated the law and that they are ready to remove the billboards.” However, she did make it a point to say that they are still considering all of their legal options.
This isn’t the first time the first lady and her legal team have had to fight these types of battles in Eastern Europe. After various businesses in Melania’s hometown of Sevnica began using her likeness to sell their products (including cakes, underwear, and tourist billboards), Pirc-Musar issued a statement putting them on notice that she was prepared to take legal action if they did not stop the using the first lady’s image without first getting the proper permissions.
Pirc-Musar explained that the law is on Melania’s side when it comes to this issue:
Judicial practice in Slovenia is clear: the use of the name, surname and photo of someone for commercial purposes without approval is not allowed.
According to Melania’s resume, she also speaks French, Serbian and German in addition to English and her native Slovenian. She was born in Slovenia, which is about a three-hour drive from Croatia. She left her home country to pursue a modeling when she was in her early 20s. In 1998 she met Donald Trump at Fashion week and eventually became the third Mrs. Trump.
The trouble seems to be that the school was using her face to advertise, so they were benefitting financially from the use of her as a role model for students aspiring to learn English. They failed to seek proper permission, though there hasn’t been any indication as to what, if anything, that permission would cost. Melania is a Trump, after all, and they are very well versed in how to gold-plate and market themselves and their names.
Featured image via Flickr