Marcello D’Onofrio: Law & Order
Who is the legal mastermind behind the most liked posts on social media? Marcello D’Onofrio is an attorney who founded his own company, M&M Consulting Licensing. Marcello devotes himself to licensing and protecting celebrities from the exploitation of image rights.
Please tell us the story of your company.
My Law firm was founded in 1992 with one office in Pulia in Barletta, and I started with a specialization in licensing (after an internship in San Diego at a law firm). Then I opened an office in Milan and Bari. Afterward, I also started to specialize in everything that could impend the exploitation of image rights. In 2002 I launched my own company, The M&M Consulting Licensing, based in Milan with a sole focus on licensing of brands in the fashion world. Subsequently, working in the fashion industry with fashion brands, we began to have celebrities’ first contacts. Later on, the agency also started to do with the development and protection of artists’ image rights, also supported by my law firm. With the explosion of social media, M&M has taken on the management of celebrities and advertising campaigns, both in the digital and television fields, as the company already had significant experience in the sector. Over time, in addition to Italian celebrities, we have also started working with international stars to promote their image to the entire Italy territory. Today we are one of the most experienced and significant companies in Italy in this sector. Our goal is to advance and focus on the work with international stars of television, cinema, and music.
Which famous brands and celebrities do you represent?
We work with many brands in the fashion world with an Italian and international focus such as GAELLE PARIS – PHILIPP PLEIN – ELISABETTA FRANCHI – ERMANNO SCERVINO – PHARMACY INDUSTRY – BARROW – MSGM – AVON – BERING – BEVERLY HILLS POLO CLUB – BOSIDENG – Commes des Fuckdown – FREEDOM DAY – PAULS BOUTIQUE London and many others. As per celebrities, we represent Gianluca Vacchi and Sharon Fonseca, Michele Morrone, Flavio Briatore and his wife Elisabetta Gregoraci, Belen Rodriguez, Kevin Prince Boateng, and Melissa Satta, just to name a few.
You work with a lot of fashion brands. What kind of support do you provide them?
In these times, their important priority is planning digital campaigns. Tasks range from finding respectable and preferable celebrities with a high number of genuine followers that are aligned with the brand philosophy to arranging international stars for the attendance of events.
From the legal point of view, what is most important for fashion brand establishment?
There is no doubt: the most significant is trademark protection. In many countries and especially in China, some people do register trademarks that have not been protected all around the world. Just look at what has happened to the SUPREME trademark.
In case your clients are attacked in the media or hated on social networks, how do you act? And is there a possibility to protect their names within the frame of law?
The law always allows us to protect celebrities and influencers who are unfairly attacked. The legal actions vary depending on the type of attack they receive. There are cases of defamation through direct offenses on social media or more distinct cases like the one that happened to Sharon Fonseca, who created her own sportswear collection. Another brand tried to attack and ruin her reputation by accusing her of copying the design. However, the owner of this brand was promptly contested and forced to back down.
Tell us the secret places where famous people can most often be met in Milan.
The places where it is easier to find celebrities in Milan are definitely the restaurants or the gym. During the day, a gym is a place where all the stars often like to spend at least two hours.
The evening is often a time of leisure, and many of them like to eat well. They get together with friends around a table with good food and good wine.
What is the funniest story in your practice?
Some years ago, during the fashion week in Milan, I had to accompany the well-known Influencer Chiara Biasi to Rome for a meeting to negotiate an essential campaign with a famous brand, and we had to take a train to Rome. The night before we came back at 4 a.m. because we were at a fashion event and we had the train at 6.30 a.m.: instead of getting on the train going to Rome we took the one going to Puglia in Bari, and we fell asleep as soon as we got on the train. We woke up when it was too late to change the train, so we had to move the meeting to the next day. It was the first and last time I missed an appointment.
You work a lot with Influencers. Tell us about this part of your job.
As I said, the Influencers are also real Celebrities now. I worked in the past for four years with Chiara Ferragni, who is one of the most famous Influencers in the world. With all influencers, we pay close attention to their brands’ choices and protect against exploiting their publications on social media. Influencers’ attention to fashion is as meticulous as the attention to detail in the photographs that are being published. The contracts must therefore be very detailed and adapted to the needs of each of them.