Keys vs. Bayous Over Slogan

By Janet Plume

BATON ROUGE–Florida Keys’ tourism officials have threatened their Louisiana counterparts with a lawsuit unless the Bayou State cancels its five-month-old ad campaign.

Louisiana tourism officials have retaliated with their own federal complaint, saying there really is no way that tourists could confuse their invitation with the one used by the Florida Keys.

Louisiana’s $5.5 million campaign was created by Bauerlein Advertising, New Orleans; the Florida Keys effort was developed by Tinsley Advertising in Miami.

The complaint involves the Bayou State’s theme, ‘Louisiana–Come as You Are. Leave Different.’ The Tourist Development Council of Monroe County, Fla., uses ‘The Florida Keys & Key West–Come as You Are’ as its slogan.

The council registered its slogan two years ago with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to control marketing rights to the campaign. When Florida officials heard Louisiana’s new line, they wrote Louisiana a letter giving the state until last Friday to end the campaign.

The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism responded by filing a complaint in federal court. No hearing date had been set at press time. It was not immediately known whether Florida had filed a lawsuit as threatened when Louisiana failed to cancel its campaign by the deadline.

The Louisiana complaint asked the federal judge to declare Florida’s letter in error and to rule that Louisiana could use its slogan without interference or threat.

‘We believe we are right and the law is on our side,’ said Mark Smith, executive counsel for the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. ‘The Florida Council has no exclusive hold on every word in the English language. A reasonable person would know the difference between the two.’

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