Ariana Grande suing Forever 21 for $10 million for using look-alike model and copying music video

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Ariana Grande is one of the most popular singers in the world, and her style inspires millions of followers on social media — but in this case imitation is not a form of flattery. Grande is suing the clothing chain Forever 21 and its spin-off cosmetics brand, Riley Rose, alleging the company used a look-alike model to impersonate her in a new ad campaign.

The singer filed the lawsuit in federal court in California on Monday. Grande claims the company falsely made it look like she was backing the brand by using imagery from her "Thank U, Next" album and hiring a model that looked just like her to recreate scenes from her "7 Rings" music video.

In "7 Rings," Ariana Grande (left) sings "I want it, I got it." Forever 21's ads (right) include the slogan, "You want it. We got it!" Ariana Grande/Vevo & Forever 21

According to Grande's lawsuit, Forever 21 continuously ran the campaign on their website and social media. An ad posted on February 8, which is still up on Forever 21 Facebook page, shows a clothing collection promoted with a slogan that plays off the lyrics from "7 Rings."

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"You want it. We got it!" the ad reads. A model whose facial features look similar to Grande's wears her hair in the pop star's signature ponytail, with accessories that match the ones Grande wears in the "7 Rings" video. The color scheme of the ad also matches the music video: neon pink and purple.

The clothes promoted in the ad look strikingly similar to outfits Grande wears in the video as well.

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The aesthetic, hair and clothes promoted in the ads, like the one at right, look strikingly similar to the outfits and color scheme featured in Grande's video, seen at left. Ariana Grande/Vevo & Forever 21

Grande claims the company capitalized off of her success to sell products — even though she never signed a deal with them. Grande and her team were in talks with Forever 21 and Riley Rose from late 2018 to early 2019, but the endorsement deal was never finalized, according to the suit.

That's because the brand would not pay Grande enough for her name and likeness, the suit alleges — and her endorsement commands top dollar.

"As of February 2019, Ms. Grande became the most-followed woman on Instagram in the world, amassing more than 160 million Instagram followers; a title she continues to hold through the date of filing this Complaint," according to the suit. "Even a single social media post by Ms. Grande can garner fees of several hundred thousand dollars, and her longer-term endorsement arrangements command fees in the millions of dollars," the suit reads.

Forever 21 might not be able to afford to employ the influential superstar — or to deal with her lawsuit. The company is preparing for a potential bankruptcy filing, Bloomberg reported last week.

Grande's lawsuit against the company is seeking at least $10 million in damages for copyright and trademark infringement, false endorsement and violating her right of publicity.

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Grande, seen at left, is suing Forever 21 for at least $10 million in damages for copyright and trademark infringement, false endorsement and violating her right of publicity, for ads like the one seen at right. Ariana Grande/Vevo & Forever 21

First published on September 3, 2019 / 3:50 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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