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Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 17:36 GMT
Spice Girls became 'marketing flop'

Snap happy: The group promoting cameras in 1997

The Spice Girls became a "total marketing flop" when Geri Halliwell left the group, the High Court in London has heard.

The claim came on the second day of a court battle between the group and Italian scooter firm Aprilia World Service, which sponsored their world tour in 1998.

Aprilia's advertising manager Rossana Fuzzi said its 512,500 contract with the Spice Girls was signed with a five-girl group, not the quartet the act became when Ms Halliwell quit midway through the tour.

Emma Bunton is due to give evidence on Wednesday
The company was launching a motor scooter aimed at a young market - 14-year-olds can ride 50cc machines in many European countries - and had called it the Spice Sonic, with a logo that incorporated silhouettes of all five members of the group.

"When Geri left, all our brochures, advertising material and the logo became obselete. A very expensive commercial of the girls became unusable," Ms Fuzzi told the court.

"Young people would not want to be seen riding a product carrying a logo which was considered to be out of date.

"This is what I would call a total marketing flop."

The company is suing the group for 1.6m damages over what it says are lost profits and advertising costs, after the group began their own legal action against it for not paying 212,000 of the sponsorship deal.

Singer Emma Bunton is to give evidence on Wednesday to try to prove the rest of the group were unaware Ms Halliwell was planning to leave the group during the tour.

Geri Halliwell promoting her autobiography last year
Ms Halliwell - who is now a successful solo artist - is expected to give evidence on behalf of the Spice Girls on Friday.

The company claims she had already told the rest of the group - Ms Bunton, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Gulzar and Melanie Chisholm - she was leaving before the sponsorship deal was concluded.

Andrew Sutcliffe, representing Aprilia, told the court that Ms Halliwell had written in her autobiography, If Only, she had conversations with other members in March 1998 about the possibility of her leaving, and in April she had said she was definitely going.

The Spice Girls claim the contract was signed with a group "currently comprising" five named members, and the company should have known pop groups can change their line-ups.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday.

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See also:
29 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Spices win lifetime award
07 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Geri wins Spice war
16 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Geri's 'folk tale' life story
14 Sep 99 |  Entertainment
I hold no grudge says Geri

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