Jason Lewis, a model turned actor who played the model-turned-actor boyfriend of Samantha Jones in the series, says that Absolut did not have permission to use the poster as an ad.
It was created by Absolut's ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day and shot in the style of all its other advertising, showing Lewis naked except for a bottle of Absolut strategically placed between his legs.
In the 'Sex and the City' storyline, Lewis' character, Smith Jared, shot to fame after the billboard appeared in Times Square, thanks to a little help from his girlfriend Samantha, who happened to be a PR hotshot. The success even spurs the creation of a new cocktail, Absolut Hunk, which the characters later drink in the show.
Absolut capitalised on the publicity by issuing a press release when the show aired, including the recipe for the Absolut Hunk cocktail.
However, Lewis's lawyers have filed a suit saying that Absolut did not have permission to use the likeness. According to reports, Lewis has avoided endorsing alcohol, tobacco and guns during his career, and also that he had avoided doing nude photo shoots.
According to the website Celebrity Justice, the suit says that the Absolut ad "operated to undermine years of careful career planning".
Ironically, in the episode, Lewis' character is unhappy with the ad because it leads to him getting attention without getting any real work, although this changes when director Gus Van Sant casts him in a film.
In a second slice of irony, according to IMDB.com, his appearance in 'Sex and the City' in 2003 and 2004 has only led to one other acting role, a movie in pre-production called 'My Bollywood Bride'.
He is seeking unspecified damages in the suit.
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