Artists often take inspiration from the works of other artists. This happens across all forms of art, from playwriting to musical composition to poetry. It certainly happens in the visual arts as well, where artists will make references or even directly incorporate aspects of another artist’s work into their own. But reproducing and selling an artist’s works without his or her explicit consent, consists of copyright infringement. That’s kind of what Cerveza Victoria is looking at, after their ‘limited edition’ Guillermo del Toro beer collection dropped — without Del Toro’s approval.
On today’s case of “Who approved this?,” Grupo Modelo —the large Mexican brewery that exports beers we all know and love, such as Corona, Modelo, Pacifico and Victoria— managed to anger one of the most beloved Mexicans in the world: Guillermo del Toro.
Cerveza Victoria, recently announced a beer can collection featuring three specially designed cans featuring the director’s face, and two of his iconic monsters; one from his acclaimed film “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the other from his Oscar winning picture “The Shape of Water.”
The cans, designed by illustrator Guy Davis, were to be sold in convenience stores in Mexico City, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán and México state.
Here’s where things turn sour. Guillermo del Toro called out Victoria, and Grupo Modelo, for using his image and those of his characters, without his permission.
‘The Shape of Water’ director tweeted at Cerveza Victoria on Thursday, and urged the company to donate all the profits raised from the sales of the beer collection to young students competing in math and robotics competitions. “Very poorly done, @VictoriaMX. These cans do not have my authorization, my consultation or my signature to use my image or my name . . .” he tweeted in Spanish.
But why, oh why, would a huge company such as Cerveza Victoria, follow through with such a massive marketing strategy like this without even asking the artist himself for his consent?
As it turns out, Victoria beer was one of the sponsors of Del Toro’s “At Home with my Monsters,” exhibition in Guadalajara, Mexico. The exhibit featured over 900 objects the Oscar-winning director used in the making of his films, such as costumes, notebooks, drawings and personal objects.
The exposition was on display at the University of Guadalajara Art Museum (MUSA) from June 1 to November 3 of this year, and we believe that perhaps this fact granted the beer maker, the liberties to run a whole collection of limited edition cans with the artist’s face and work emblazoned all over them — without expressly asking for his take on it, much less his permission.
The beer maker took to Twitter to “apologize”.
Victoria, by Grupo Modelo, tried and failed to contain this crisis by tweeting that “they would never take liberties with something like this,” when in fact, they did — smh. The company, however, did apologize and admitted to making a mistake:
“We would never take liberties with something like this, @RealGDT. We are reviewing where the wires got crossed. Apart from this, we will continue to support Mexican talent as we have done up to now,” tweeted the company.
But in another twist of events, the very next day, Victoria deleted all tweets, images and every single trace of the ‘Guillermo del Toro’ campaign from the company’s social media — including the half-assed apology tweet.
On Thursday of the same week, Del Toro tweeted out that things had been patched up between himself and the beer maker.
At the end of last week, the director announced that the beer company’s faux pas was a thing of the past, and that the two managed to find a solution: “The misunderstanding has been fixed in good will. The cans with my signature will be substituted by a new graphic project (with no profit for me) and the proceeds will be going to @CDMXOMM and @SOMEXICO_ Thank you,” he tweeted in Spanish.
The organizations mentioned in the critically acclaimed director’s tweet, work for causes he continually supports.
@CDMXOMM is Mexico City’s math olympics, an academic program that helps students and young people develop their creative math skills. @SOMexico_ or Special Olympics Mexico, is an organization that offers sports training and support for intellectually disabled athletes.
Del Toro has supported these causes in the past and continues to champion children’s academic needs.
When he’s not directing award-winning films or being celebrated at award shows, the director works closely with organizations, supporting students’ ambitions in math, animation and now, sports. Only this year, he offered a full scholarship to young Deborah Balboa for a Masters in Arts and Animation at the best university in Paris, France. Also this year, in March, he helped two students attend university to study film thanks to the Jenkins-Del Toro scholarship. He also paid for two students to attend a math world tournament in England, from his own pocket.
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