Like all TV newscasters, Michael Buerk is currently forbidden from doing any advertising work, either as a voiceover or otherwise.
Topic: Personality rights
Who: Orange, Jon Culshaw and Michael Buerk
When: August 2000
Like all TV newscasters, Michael Buerk is currently forbidden from doing any advertising work, either as a voiceover or otherwise. He was therefore a slice miffed when he heard Orange telecoms ads on the radio featuring a spoof newsreader who sounded uncannily like himself. Further enquiry revealed that Orange had retained impressionist and radio 4 star Jon Culshaw to do the voice, and the embarrassing silly season stories started to appear in the press.
Why this matters:
There is no indication that Mr Buerk plans to pursue any legal claim and no suggestion that Orange intended Mr Culshaw to sound confusingly like the well-known newsreader. In other circumstances, however, an advertiser could have been laying itself open to passing off, or perhaps defamation proceedings by the personality. If a personality is well known by their voice and ad listeners would be confused as to whether it is the genuine article, just actual or likely damage has to be proved. This might be a tad difficult of course if the personality were disqualified from voiceovers and not able to derive or lose income from that source. Defamation might come into play if the personality was well known as either prevented from doing advertising work or opposed in principle to doing it. For listeners to then hear that person apparently doing advertising nevertheless might well lead them to think less of the personality.