20:35 GMT +319 July 2018
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    A worker carrying a ladder walks past a billboard depicting the first lady Melania Trump and advertising a language school displayed in Zagreb, Croatia, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

    Billboards Using Melania Trump's Photo to Push English Classes in Croatia Yanked

    © AP Photo/ Darko Bandic
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    After not even a week, Croatia's American Institute was forced on Tuesday to yank billboards advertising English classes with a photo of US First Lady Melania Trump.

    "Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English," the billboard read.

    ​According to Ivis Buric, the spokesperson for the Zagreb-based institute, the advertisement was only meant to inspire locals to sign up for classes.

    "The campaign aims to promote the American Institute as a place to learn English, find out about educational opportunities in the US and participate in American-oriented events," Buric told CNBC in a statement Monday.

    And yet, despite Buric's intentions, the school ran into a problem a day later.

    Per Natasha Pirc-Musar, the first lady's lawyer, the school failed to get permission to use Trump's image, which violated the law and prompted legal action. Not wanting to find themselves stuck in a lawsuit, the institute backed down and followed orders.

    "I'm satisfied with the fact that the school admitted that they violated the law," Pirc-Musar told AP. "And that they are ready to remove the billboards and [Facebook] ads."

    The institute later apologized, releasing a statement implying the ads were part of an innocent campaign.

    "We are very sorry that the billboards were misunderstood as something intended to mock the US first lady," Buric told AP. "It was meant to be something positive, to show [Melania Trump] as a role model." Trump was born in Slovenia and speaks English as a second language.

    Though short-lived, Buric added it was "very successful."

    Prior to the takedown, the school had three additional billboards scheduled to be posted. It will now be putting up new billboards — without the famous immigrant's likeness.


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