B.J. Novak stock images
Source: Getty Images/ Instagram

Wait, Is B.J. Novak a Catalog Model? The Hilarious Story Behind These Product Photos

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Oct. 26 2021, Published 2:23 p.m. ET

You know what they say: Be careful about what you post online because it could come back to hurt you later. Take the case of this nurse, who was allegedly fired for posting racist and homophobic videos on TikTok. Or this woman, who was fired from her job because she complained about it on Twitter.

However, it’s not always social media posts that can cause damage. Sometimes it’s just a very good photo of your face.

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The Office alum B.J. Novak recently shared how he accidentally (and hilariously!) became the poster child for a variety of different products across the world. From men’s cologne to face paint, B.J.'s face can be seen out there repping a lot of different goods. Keep reading to learn how this happened.

B.J. Novak
Source: Getty Images
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B.J. Novak's face can be seen on products all over the world.

In Oct. 2021, B.J. shared a photo of a packaged rain jacket to his Instagram Story. "Stay dry today Los Angeles," he wrote on the pic, which he posted during a record-breaking rainstorm in California. However, the funny thing about the rain jacket B.J. posted is that his face is seen on the product's packaging. What's even more hilarious is that the majority of the copy on the packaging was written in another language.

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B.J. explained how he accidentally became the face of this rain jacket that he has clearly never worn. "Years ago, someone mistakenly put an image of me on a public domain site, and now apparently I am on products all around the world, but I am too amused to do anything about it," he wrote on his Instagram Story.

He then proceeded to share a few more photos of products where his face was used on the packaging. Besides the rain jacket, B.J.'s face can be seen on the packaging for electric hair clippers, a razor in Japan, face paint in Uraguay, and men's cologne in Sweden. Not Skinny But Not Fat podcast host Amanda Hirsch compiled all of the photos on Instagram for easy viewing (see below).

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According to Stanford Libraries, the term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. If materials are marked public domain, then the public owns them. Therefore, anyone can use public domain materials without obtaining permission.

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In B.J.'s case, the photos of him landed on a public domain site. Because of that, companies did not have to reach out to the photographer who took them or the subject ( aka B.J.) to receive the rights to use them elsewhere. It's definitely an easy way for companies to get access to imagery without having to hire models. In the case of the rain jacket, it's likely that the company downloaded the photo and then edited it to make it look like he was actually wearing the jacket.

While B.J. is definitely a big star in the U.S., he might not be as well known worldwide — or else the companies probably would have included his name to help generate more buzz. I guess the moral of the story is: If you use photo-sharing platforms like Flickr, make sure you know what your photos are marked as. Because you never really know when your next selfie could be used in the newest ad for an international cologne.

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