S.F. Man Suing AmEx Over ‘My Life. My Card’ Tagline

NEW YORK A San Francisco man is suing American Express for trademark infringement regarding its “My life. My card” ad campaign. In a complaint filed in March in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Stephen Goetz of Gardner Design Group there claims that in July 2004 he sent a proposal to AmEx CMO John Hayes in New York offering credit-card personalization services using that line. Without hearing back, he says, he filed for trademark of the line on Sept. 8 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. By November, the new campaign debuted with the line. The complaint says Goetz then sent a cease-and-desist letter to AmEx, which in turn filed a case in New York seeking a declaration that it did not misappropriate the slogan. In March, Goetz filed his complaint in San Francisco. His attorney, Micah Jacobs of Jacobs & Ferraro in San Francisco, said, “So far, AmEx has not shown us any evidence of its own independent conception of this mark.” The two sides are awaiting word on where discovery arguments in the case will be heard. AmEx’s agency, WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather, had no comment. AmEx spent $385 million in U.S. media last year. AmEx rep Judy Tenzer said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

BBDO Breaks Japanese Cool Mitsubishi Eclipse Launch Ad

LOS ANGELES Mitsubishi Motors North America’s Eclipse launch spot, its first from Omnicom’s BBDO, New York, broke Sunday on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy and continues this week in 30- and 60-second versions on season finales such as Alias, Lost and 24, said the Cypress, Calif., client. The ads adopt a “Japanese cool” style, with the car on a dark stage with red-costumed Asian women beating drums. The new tag is, “Driven to thrill.” Outdoor and print show the Eclipse leaving a painted tribal flame in its tracks. The BBDO team was led by Chris Hall, evp and managing director, North America, and Jim Lesser, ecd of BBDO West.

Lowe’s to Cut to 6 Contenders From 14 This Week

NEW YORK Lowe’s is expected to cut to six semifinalists this week in the review of its $315 million account, sources said. All 14 shops that received the RFI returned it, sources said. After the cut, Lowe’s will conduct credentials meeting the week of June 6, then cut to three finalists plus the incumbent, IPG’s McCann Erickson. Shops that returned the RFP include IPG’s Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, Deutsch in New York and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.; Omnicom’s BBDO, DDB, TBWA\Chiat\Day and Merkley + Partners, all in New York, Martin/Williams in Minneapolis and Element 79 Partners in Chicago; WPP’s JWT in New York; and Havas’ Arnold in Boston. Hasan + Co. in Raleigh, N.C., is managing the search.

Clients in Flux as Mad Dogs Is Set to Close at End Of Month

NEW YORK Mad Dogs & Englishmen will close its doors on May 31, said co-founder and managing partner Robin Hafitz. It is unclear what will happen to the New York shop’s remaining clients, which are Atkins, sports clothing line CW-X and Grand Marnier, but sources said they may follow creative director Deacon Webster. Calls to Webster were not returned.

More Money, Staff and Respect For PR in ’04, Says Study

BOSTON The University of Southern California’s Annenberg Strategic PR Center’s third annual Generally Accepted Practices Study found that 2004 was a good year for PR. Besides the top-line findings of burgeoning budgets (up 3 percent on average) and staff, the overall sentiment among the 350 PR execs surveyed was that PR is taken more seriously among CEOs as an ingredient of success.

CP+B Mimics Cheesy Late-Night Pitches in New Mini Spots

NEW YORK BMW’s Mini draws inspiration from late-night pitchmen like Ron Popeil and Earl Scheib for a new TV campaign for $19.99 products that solve “problems” caused by the car’s exhilarating performance. Such products include “Go-Grip,” a padded wrap for the upper-sill door handle, “G-Whiz,” a G-force indicator, and something called the “Hey Horn,” a handheld device that makes a whimsical klaxon sound. The ads, via Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami, are running on cable and flag, a Mini microsite.

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