Via Sharad Haksar
Coca-Cola has slapped a legal notice on ace photographer, Sharad Haksar, claiming that his ‘Thirsty’ hoarding on Nungambakkam High Road in Chennai has done ‘incalculable damage to the goodwill and reputation’ of their brand. Coke has threatened to file a defamation suit claiming damages of Rs. 2 Million if Sharad Haksar doesn’t remove the hoarding ‘unconditionally and immediately’ and also provide an ‘unconditional apology in writing’.
Reacting to this legal threat Sharad responds, “I am very surprised by the reaction of Coca-Cola. The hoarding does not demean, derogate or defame any person. It is just a creative piece of work. There is neither falsity nor intention to defame. I don’t see how this can hurt any one. In fact, to ensure, no one takes offence, I had clearly put a disclaimer on the hoarding. Infact senior Coke officials who have visited my office had seen the picture even before it was put on the hoarding. They didn’t raise any objection. Now they have issued me a legal notice. I am indeed zapped. I have been in the advertising industry for nearly 15 years now. I have built the reputation of many big brands through my images. I even did a shoot for Coke three months back. I would never do anything to hurt any brand. Leave alone Coke. I would have expected Coke to take it sportingly. Instead they’ve chosen to issue a legal notice. I have no intentions of issuing any apology. Because I have not committed anything wrong. If Coke pursues this legal course, my lawyers shall take appropriate counter action.”
Incidentally, Sharad Haksar is the most awarded Indian photographer in recent times. In April 2005, he was declared the Adobe Galgo ‘Photographer of the Year’. In May 2005, he was selected by Popular Photography as one of the Top 10 Photographers of the world. And in July 2005 he won a silver lion for India at the prestigious advertising awards show at Cannes.
What do you think? Does Coke have any legal basis to go after Sharad?