You can have film star Simu Liu prominently featured in your advertising for as little as $50...
... and you don't even need his approval!
That's because in 2014 -- before he was known to Canadians for playing Jung Kim in Kim's Convenience and known to the world for playing Shang-Chi in the Marvel Universe -- Liu was paid $100 to model for a set of stock photos.
This means any person or business can go to Getty Images right now, search for those photos, pay Getty the usage fee, and then use those images of Liu for commercial purposes.
But what if Liu doesn't want his image to be used in your ad?
Too bad, so sad...
Liu signed away the rights to those images in exchange for that $100 payment, so as long as you pay Getty their licensing fee, he can't stop you from using his likeness (which has become far more valuable in recent years due to his tremendous success) in your marketing material. It's all perfectly legal.
Perhaps that's why Toshiba thought using an image of Liu in a printer ad was a good idea.
Is it possible Toshiba simply needed a stock photo for a low-budget campaign, found this image and liked it, and didn't realize it featured Simu Liu? Sure, anything's possible.
But what's more likely is they knew exactly what they were doing.
Which prompted this response from the beloved actor on Twitter:
"Toshiba, whatever you paid for this photo, I guarantee you I would have endorsed you for less. Now we are enemies."
Toshiba tried to benefit by using a famous actor "on the cheap" but has now incurred the wrath of that actor... and his legion of fans, who probably won't think kindly of a very large company clearly taking advantage of their film hero.
Just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should.
Especially when it comes to people.