18 August 2000

Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate in this fall’s presidential election, is on the receiving end of a lawsuit by Mastercard International for running a campaign spot that parodied its Priceless TV commercials.

Mastercard seeks an injunction from the US District Court in New York to halt the Green Party’s offending spots, plus $5 million in damages. The ‘Priceless’ campaign, via McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, compares the prices of several items with their "priceless" emotional worth.

Nader’s parody ad, The Priceless Truth (by North Woods Advertising, Minneapolis) uses footage of Republican and Democrat politicians with captions such as "Promises to special interest groups: $10 billion" and "Finding out the truth: Priceless."

Larry Flanagan, senior VP-marketing at MasterCard, was distinctly unamused: " 'Priceless' is a very valuable asset ... We're very concerned with consumer confusion," he said. Responded Nader: "They should lighten up. They're taking their name 'Master' too seriously. This is America."

This is not the first time Mastercard has failed to appreciate the humor in parodies of its campaign. Last year it forced NBC to pull an ad and also sued Home Box office for $15 million in damages for alleged infringements of its trademarks and copyrights. The suit is still pending.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline