How much is a Vogue cover worth? Drake and 21 Savage have just found out.
Condé Nast has settled a trademark infringement lawsuit against Drake and 21 Savage after the rappers and their communications firm, Hiltzik Strategies, launched a fake press tour complete with a Vogue cover featuring the duo.
In the suit, filed last November in the Southern District of New York, Condé Nast sought $4 million in statuary damages and treble damages tied to the rappers’ profits from “Her Loss.”
The campaign, designed to mimic a whirlwind promotional tour that often accompanies album releases, also included fake posters in New York City and other metropolitan areas, while physical copies of the fake magazine also were distributed. 21 Savage appeared in a fake interview for Vogue’s “What’s in My Bag” series. And Drake name-checked Anna Wintour in an Instagram post that included a photograph of the Vogue chief.
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The campaign also included fake appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” NPR and Howard Stern’s interview program.
Condé Nast won an injunction against Drake and 21 Savage days after the suit was filed. At the time, a federal judge in Manhattan agreed with Condé Nast’s claims that the campaign was not authorized to use the Vogue trademark and ordered the rappers and Hiltzik Strategies to remove the offending material from all social channels. Damages were not addressed at the time of the injunction.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Condé Nast general counsel Will Bowes noted in an internal memo obtained by WWD that the “monetary settlement” would “bolster our ongoing creative output, including Vogue editorial.”
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Condé Nast was alone in pursuing legal action for the stunt, while other media brands coopted for the campaign seemed to take it in stride. And the fake Vogue cover did manage to fool social media users and some media outlets, which reported that Drake and 21 Savage were indeed Vogue’s latest cover stars.
The publisher had initially issued a cease and desist letter in an effort to get the rappers and Hiltzik Strategies to remove the material. A representative for Hiltzik Strategies declined to comment.
But, said Bowes in the memo, “our outreach efforts were repeatedly ignored. Instead, they went ahead using the Vogue name to print a fake edition and cover of Vogue, along with out-of-home marketing assets and globally disseminated social and video posts.”
“As a creative company, we of course understand our brands may from time to time be referenced in other creative works,” he continued. “In this instance, however, it was clear to us that Drake and 21 Savage leveraged Vogue’s reputation for their own commercial purposes and, in the process, confused audiences who trust Vogue as the authoritative voice on fashion and culture.”