Bohlen, jury member on Deutschland sucht den Superstar (“Germany Seeks the Superstar”), the country’s biggest pop talent show, took offence at an advertising campaign by cigarette company Lucky Strike that poked fun at his 2003 autobiography Hinter den Kulissen (“Behind the Scenes”).
After several celebrities threatened legal action, Bohlen was forced to release the book with a number of passages redacted. This was picked up by the Lucky Strike poster, which read, “Look, Dieter, this is how you write books,” with several other words blacked out.
Bohlen successfully sued the cigarette makers in the Hamburg district and state courts, only to have his case dismissed by the German federal court in 2008 on the grounds that the advert did not violate the German constitution. The court ruled that companies were allowed to satirise current events in advertising campaigns.
In response, the former singer from Modern Talking, a pop-combo which had its heyday in the 1980s when wavy mullet hair-dos were acceptable, is now suing the German state for violating his human rights.
“I can take a joke,” Bohlen told Friday’s Bild newspaper. “But as a non-smoker, for me the fun ends when a tobacco company advertises at my expense. That’s out of order.”
The celebrity music producer is being joined at the European court by Prince Ernst August of Hanover, husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco. He is reported to have assaulted a cameraman and attacked a Kenyan nightclub owner, among other violent incidents.
The German aristocrat is suing Lucky Strike over a poster showing a beaten-up cigarette packet, with the slogan “Was that Ernst? Or August?”
The prince claims that the ad violates his human rights by characterizing him as a “brutal hooligan.” He says that he cannot lead a “normal private life” in a country that allows such an advertising campaign.
It remains unclear when the ECHR will reach its verdict.