Billboards of Melania Trump used to promote English classes in Croatia taken down after legal notice

A billboard advertisment for the American Institute school in Zagreb featuring an image of the US First Lady Melania Trump is pictured on Sept 19, 2017 in Zagreb.
A billboard advertisment for the American Institute school in Zagreb featuring an image of the US First Lady Melania Trump is pictured on Sept 19, 2017 in Zagreb.PHOTO: AFP

ZAGREB (AFP) - Billboards featuring a glamorous image of US First Lady Melania Trump and the caption: "Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English" were supposed to attract students to a language school in Croatia.

But the five roadside adverts were taken down on Tuesday (Sept 19) after just four days on display, following a complaint from Mr Trump's lawyer in her native Slovenia.

The American Institute school in Zagreb "grossly violated Croatia's law... since they unlawfully used the image and personality of Mrs Trump for commercial purposes", Mr Trump's lawyer Natasa Pirc Musar said in an e-mail.

"By using her image to advertise their services, they have unlawfully intruded on her personality rights," she said. "We are pleased they have realised they made a huge mistake."

Ms Ivis Buric, who created the billboards, said they were intended to send a "very positive message" and present the First Lady as a role model.

"The main goal was to promote the English language," she said, speaking on behalf of the school.

She confirmed the boards were removed on the request of Mr Trump's lawyers.

Mrs Trump, 47, was born Melanija Knavs in Slovenia when it was part of communist Yugoslavia. She left home in the 1990s to pursue a modelling career.

This took her to the United States where she met Mr Donald Trump, whom she married in 2005.

After her husband's election win, efforts by Slovenian businesses to cash in with Melania cakes and White House slippers were also dealt a setback when a lawyer warned them to be careful about trademarks.

A honey producer removed jars that claimed the product came from "Melania's home garden", while others changed the name of their products, including the Rondo pizzeria whose "Trump" burger became the more generic "Presidential" burger.