Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave or under a rock, you will undoubtedly have seen this ad floating around on the internets. It’s a family portrait of an outstandingly good-looking couple with their three — how do we put this politely? — very average-looking kids with the tagline, “The only thing you’ll ever have to worry about is how to tell the kids.”
Taiwanese model Heidi Yeh, who has an impressive portfolio of work for various brands, as well as appearances in music videos, says she now rues the day she took up that job because it’s given her 3 years of living hell.
In a press conference in Taipei on Wednesday, Yeh tearfully told the media that since the picture went viral, jobs dried up for her both in Taiwan and overseas.
Yeh says she was contracted by a modelling agency as well as the ad agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) for a photo shoot for a cosmetic clinic. According to the contract, the image would only be used in print, she claims. Not long afterwards though, another cosmetic clinic began using the image in its online ad campaigns, and it didn’t take long for the picture to go viral around the world.
The fake story of a man who sued his wife because their children were too ugly published by a Heilongjiang tabloid broke the internets after international media outlets attached the image to the news story. Since then, it has become the subject of countless memes and different versions of the urban legend all soon began to have their own legs.
As a result of the living nightmare, Yeh says she has lost up to 4 million NTD (or 785,000 yuan) in potential earnings as talent agencies began to shun her. Even more hurtful were the accusations and murmurs that she lied to get married, or that she has had cosmetic surgery done.
Yeh is now suing JWT, the talent agency and the offending cosmetic clinic for 5 million NTD in compensation.
Simple Beauty, the clinic defending itself in the case, has put out a statement on its Facebook page saying it went through the proper procedure to obtain rights to the image from JWT. Everything else would be between her and the ad agency to sort out, it added.
For its part, JWT pointed to a clause in the model release agreement signed between Yeh and the talent agency in which she would give JWT absolute copyright to the image, with the understanding that the said image would be altered or modified.
JWT’s statement also included a veiled threat that it was preparing its legal team to countersue because Yeh’s “untrue allegations” have hurt the company’s image.