The songwriter claims he was approached several times to participate in ads for Opel but kept a longstanding policy of refusing to hand over his work or person to commercials. Instead, Opel hired a soundalike.
Waits put out a press release in April assuring fans that he was not involved, to which GM responded that it did not seek out the artist in the first place.
The suit claims Waits’ personality rights are violated under German law, and he seeks recovery including profits.
“Apparently, the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad – ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car,” Waits said in a statement, apparently referencing
“I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor. Currently accepting in my absence is my German doppelganger. While the court can’t make me active in radio, I am asking it to make me radioactive to advertisers.”
Last year, a Barcelona court ordered an ad agency to pay compensation to Waits’ publisher in Spain for copyright violation. The company allegedly approached Waits to use his song “Innocent When You Dream” for a Audi commercial in 2000, then used a song that sounded suspiciously like it when he refused. The amount of the reward was undisclosed.