BootLeg Betty

BetteBack: “I Don’t Do Commercials”

Bette testifies – `I don’t do commercials’
Article from:Chicago Sun-Times Article date:October 27, 1989

Bette Midler testified in her $10 million lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. and an ad agency that a commercial in which a singer imitated her voice damaged her reputation irreparably.

“I don’t do commercials,” she testified Wednesday in Los Angeles. “I don’t believe in it. I resent people looking at that commercial and thinking that’s me. They think I sold out. It doesn’t matter if I win or lose this trial. The damage is done.”

The Grammy-winning singer and actress said one of her former backup singers was hired to perform the song “Do You Wanna Dance” for a 1986 Mercury Sable commercial after she turned Ford down.

During her testimony, the singer smiled widely and swayed when her attorney played her recording of “Do You Wanna Dance” in court. She said the song was her first hit and helped make her career.

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6 thoughts on “BetteBack: “I Don’t Do Commercials”

  1. Ms. M’s case was published as a case law. I reviewed her case in my Jurisprudence class. The Court of Appeal remanded the case to the District Court for trial. It is a landmark case involving tort — the Court held that, “[a] voice is as distinctive and personal as a face. The human voice is one of the most palpable ways identity is manifested.” Ms. M’s voice is distinct and because Ford had her voice imitated [and used] to sell a product, it caused injury to Ms. M’s reputation. Ms. M. was awarded $400,000 in (tort) damages.
    The case was called Midler v. Ford Motor Co., et al., 849 F.2d 460.

    This landmark case protected Ms. M from parties trying to misappropriate her songs or ride in her popularity. It was really a smart decision on her part to sue Ford for “using” her to sell a product.

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