In today’s digital age, brands are seeking maximum exposure to expose their products and or services to a large customer base. As a company, one of the best ways to achieve maximum exposure is to attach your product or service to the brand of a celebrity or influencer. Whether it’s an athlete or Hollywood Actor, they command the attention of a lot of people. Therefore, if you are successful in negotiating a celebrity contracted endorsement agreement that will surely get your brand exposed to a large audience.
Social media has become a large part of “pop” culture and celebrities garner more attention causing them to be under the microscope of the public eye. As such, they are more exposed to have their “questionable” behavior under more scrutiny than in the past. So, the question becomes - how does a company protect itself from potential controversy surrounding a celebrity?
When drafting an endorsement agreement an inclusion of a morals clause can protect a company. A morals clause can give a company the ability to terminate or suspend a contract of the celebrity if the celebrity fails to comply with the conditions set forth in the clause. The clause generally prohibits behavior that may be deemed scandalous, criminal, or generally offensive behavior to the public.
In general, it is advisable for an endorser to draft a morals clause in a broad manner. With a broad morals clause, the endorser would have the discretion to end the agreement without penalty if the celebrity engages in the prohibited behavior enunciated in the morals clause. Conversely, celebrities should seek a morals clause with language more narrow and objective when it pertains to their behavior. Such language in favor of the celebrity would allow the endorser to end the agreement if the celebrity pleads guilty, is convicted of a crime or any other similar definitive instances.
Celebrities should also beware of the companies with which they associate. They should push for a “reverse morals clause” to receive the same protection that an endorser may seek. When negotiating a contract involving a morals clause, seeking the assistance of an attorney can help leverage your position in favor of protecting your brand.