National Coalition Party MP Ilkka Kanerva was surprised on Monday to hear about a giant advertising poster in the centre of Helsinki which used his picture to promote the website of a dating agency catering to people who are already in a relationship.
Kanerva says that his image was used without his permission.
The Ashley Madison website plans to start a Finnish-language version of its service soon. The advertising space on the wall of a large building under refurbishment has been bought for two weeks. Timo Uusi-Kerttula, the director of Finnish service of Ashley Madison, says that the faces of well-known people have been used in the company’s advertising in other countries, and that the practice has proven to be effective.
"They are all the kinds of types who have been public figures before. If they have had secret relationships, and they have come to light, then why shouldn’t they be discussed later as well?"
The billboard is denounced as unethical by Tarja Virmala, managing director of the Finnish Association of Marketing Communication Agencies.
"This is not in line with good marketing practice. This actually violates consumer protection legislation. Nobody’s picture can be used without permission."
Ilkka Kanerva was forced to resign from his post as Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2008 over controversy involving text messages that he sent to dancer Johanna Tukiainen.
"Kanerva has dealt with these things with Johanna Tukiainen when he was Foreign Minister. We think that this deprives him of the right to decide what kinds of connections his face is used in", Uusi-Kerttula says.
Kanerva does not agree with this view. He has not yet decided whether or not to take legal action.