Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Borat’ character has had strong cultural impact for more than 17 years now. With the sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm being an immense success, one cannabis company felt that using the character for their own promotion might be a fun idea.

Cohen recently launched a lawsuit against Solar Therapeutics for using Borat’s image on one of their billboards, which was situated next to a highway in Massachusetts. Cohen’s attorney David Condon wrote in the filed complaint:

By use of the Billboard, the Defendants falsely have conveyed to the public that Mr. Baron Cohen has endorsed their products and is affiliated with their business. To the contrary, Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis in his life. He never would participate in an advertising campaign for cannabis, for any amount of money.

BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN, Sacha Baron Cohen, 2006. TM & ©20th Century Fox. All rights reserved./courtesy Everett Collection

Condon continued in the complaint to state that advocacy of cannabis is not something Mr. Cohen stands for, and that as an Observant Jew, he wishes to not stand in the middle of any controversy that might come from the debate of cannabis use in Orthodox Jewish rituals.

With his ‘Ali G’ character, portrayed by Mr. Baron Cohen in the HBO television series Da Ali G Show, Mr. Baron Cohen has spent much of his career making a mockery of ‘stoner’ culture – a culture which the Defendants’ Billboard overtly celebrates. In addition, Mr. Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family; he is an Observant Jew; and he is proud of his cultural heritage. He does not wish to be involved in the heated controversy among the Orthodox Jewish community about whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs, and rules.

The company has taken down the billboard as per the cease-and-desist letter, but refuses to recuperate the damages. Since Cohen and his attorney suspect the use of his image was willful, he seeks to get compensation for the damages and the profits that the company might have made through the use of his image.

Nitish Vashishtha

Nitish Vashishtha is a freelance writer/news correspondent from India. He’s written content for companies like ScoopWhoop and Sportskeeda. He’s been writing about pop-culture, current affairs and pro-wrestling since 2017. While pursuing Master's in Mass Communication with a special interest in Advertising, his key areas of creativity lie in designing, content creation and creative storytelling as well as fictional writing. In his free time, he likes to create new riffs on his guitar, learning about whatever piques his interest, reading books ranging from philosophy to speculative sci-fi and enjoys watching anything HBO (Succession FTW).

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