A model has sued Volvo for its use of her photo in print and Internet ads, alleging that the Sweden-based car maker made her look like a Swedish escort, according to court documents.
Carolyn Giles, 30, says a photo exclusively for Volvo’s S40 model car has turned up in ad after ad for all kinds of products from tourism to rental cars in at least 25 different countries, all without her consent.
Giles is suing Volvo, Hertz and her modeling agency – Ford Models – for $23 million.
“I was paid $2,000 unlimited usage for Volvo for their S40 model,” Giles told ABC News’ Diana Perez.
The most offensive, unauthorized use of her image, she says, was on an Australian dating website promoting a night of socializing, sponsored by Volvo. The website, fastimpressions.com.au, invites singles to “spend a night with a Swedish model of your choice.”
After the ad mentions the Swedish models, it says they come in the shape of four spectacular cars.
Volvo said in a statement that it was a play on words and “the ‘sexy Swedish models’ were cars, not escorts.”
Ford Models declined to comment and Hertz did not respond to a request for comment.
Giles doesn’t buy the play-on-words defense. “It took me really, really looking through it at least two times for me to even get to that,” she said.
Giles says in the lawsuit that the promotion was done “to make it appear that she may be an escort with extreme sexual and inappropriate connotations and innuendos.”
Volvo said Giles signed a release granting rights for “unlimited print and Internet placements worldwide for an unlimited time.”
Giles disagrees with Volvo, saying, “The product is Volvo S40. I didn’t say that Volvo could use my image for anything Volvo for the rest of my life.”
ABC News legal analyst Dana Cole, who has no connection to the case, said, “It’s not that Volvo can go around and peddle her pictures to anyone and everyone they choose to.”
No matter what happens, Giles, who has been modeling for more than a decade, says her suit is about the principle.
“Even if I end up with nothing,” she said, “I would just be happy if the industry standard changed and people started doing what they’re supposed to do.”