When Myriam Bedard, Canada's double gold medalist in the
biathlon at the 1994 Winter Olympics, saw the likeness of a
grimacing biathlete (below, right) looking out from an ad for
Wrigley's gum, she did a double take. Bedard recognized herself
in the picture, but just barely--she had been shorn of her
blonde hair, her goggles had been mirrored over and other
features of the image had been doctored. She was horrified, not
merely because she has no endorsement deal with Wrigley, but
also because, she claims, the altered image stripped her of her
Bedard, who makes speaking appearances and has an endorsement
contract with Canadian National Railways, argues unabashedly
that her femininity is an asset threatened by the ad. She has
filed a lawsuit against Wrigley and its ad agency BBDO Canada,
remarkable not in its size ($850,000 Canadian) but because of
the outrage behind it. "I've always made a point of remaining
feminine in a sport that is very demanding and very masculine,"
she said when the suit was announced.
BBDO Canada has admitted it erred in using and altering Bedard's
image and offered her an apology and $4,000 compensation. But
she claims the offer is insufficient to address the damage
already done: "The ads have infringed upon what is dearest to me
after my loved ones--my integrity as a woman and the integrity
of my image."