|The ficticious 'Absolut Hunk' ad. Click to see larger image.|
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Jason Lewis appeared in a July 27, 2003, episode as the struggling actor-boyfriend of PR-maven Samantha Jones, played by Kim Cattrall. In the fictitious ad, created by real-life agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, part of Omnicom Group, he lies naked on a bed with a bottle of Absolut vodka placed strategically between his legs. The ad appears in the show as a Times Square billboard.
A Hunk cocktail
In the suit, Mr. Lewis said Absolut put the photo on the Web and on the day the episode aired issued an Internet press release that referred to Mr. Lewis as the "Absolut Hunk," explained how to make an "Absolut Hunk" cocktail and promoted the fake ad as genuine.
Mr. Lewis and his manager, Dancing Girls Production, said Mr. Lewis has avoided assignments relating to alcohol, tobacco and guns. The suit also said Mr. Lewis has refused work requiring nudity so that he would be taken seriously by the fashion and entertainment industries. The suit said the "Absolut Hunk" work was not to be used outside of the series without Mr. Lewis' consent and that it was not to be available in magazines or where young children had access.
According to the suit, many Web sites indicated that the photo of a near-naked Mr. Lewis was provided courtesy of Absolut and "did not indicate that the photo was taken from a fictitious advertisement."
Absolut's regular ads featuring its iconic bottle are shot by Swedish photographer Peter Gehrke, who also photographed Mr. Lewis, who said he and Dancing Girls retained the original photograph used in the show.
Omnicom's Ketchum, a public relations firm that managed the photo shoot, was named in the suit along with Absolut parent V&S Group. Absolut declined to comment, other than to say it had not been served with the suit, which was filed May 27 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Ketchum could not immediately be reached. Absolut's agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day in New York, was not named in the suit.
Damages were not specified, and no trial date has been set.