Melania billboard was meant to portray FLOTUS as role model: school spokesperson

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Melania Trump stands with her husband Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. Reuters/Mark Kauzlarich

Melania Trump’s lawyer has threatened to sue after a billboard with a photo of the first lady stood in Croatia’s capital city. The billboard, which read “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English,” has been taken down, but a spokesperson for the school that used Melania’s photo said it was meant to show the FLOTUS as a role model.

School spokesperson Ivis Buric has apologized for the billboards. She said they were meant to imply a positive message, the Associated Press reports.

The billboard showed Melania delivering a speech before an American flag. It was used as an ad for the English language school.

Buric said they were sorry the billboards were misunderstood as something intended to mock the first lady of the United States. The school spokesperson explained it was meant to portray Melania as a role model. The AP reports that it was part of a private English language school’s marketing campaign in Zagreb to encourage Croats to learn the language.

Natasa Pirc-Musar, Melania’s lawyer, demanded the American Institute to remove the billboard. Now that it was already taken down, the FLOTUS’ legal representative told the Associated Press ​she was satisfied with “the fact that the school admitted that they violated the law” and that they were ready to have the billboard removed. She reportedly added that they were still analysing possible legal steps.

The advertisement featuring US President Donald Trump’s wife was said to be "very successful.” Buric said it attracted so much publicity. Now, the school plans to build more but will no longer include a photo of Melania.

But for Pirc-Musar, a simple apology is not enough. She reportedly wants Croatian and Slovenian news agencies to publish the mea culpa.

It is not the first time an image of the FLOTUS caused a legal stir. In November, her lawyer issued a statement saying it was against Slovenian copyright law to use Melania’s face on billboards and items for sale, Politico reports.

"Judicial practice in Slovenia is clear: the use of the name, surname and photo of someone for commercial purposes without approval is not allowed," Pirc Musar told the Associated Press in December. By that time, no legal action has been taken.

​Melania was born Melanija Knavs and left Slovenia in her 20s. She pursued her modelling career in the United States and met Donald Trump in 1998.

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