Insurance Association Wants to Bar Harry and Louis-Cloned Commercials

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WASHINGTON ( -- The Health Insurance Association of America has gone to court to stop its former
Harry and Louise ponder the meaning of the cloning controversy in a new TV commercial.
advertising agency from using the Harry and Louis characters created for a 1994 fight against the Clinton health plan in a new campaign supporting cloning research.

In a suit filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the association claims that it owns Harry and Louise and that its former agency Goddard Claussen, now called Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli, and the group CuresNow are illegally using the characters. The suit seek an injunction to stop the ads and an award of damages.

Hollywood execs
CuresNow was formed by top Hollywood executives whose children have juvenile diabetes and who back research for therapeutic stem cell research.

The $22 million 1994 Harry and Louise campaign was a groundbreaking effort that represented the most extensive use of advertising to push a public policy goal. Produced for a group associated with HIAA, the spots featured a couple identified in subsequent ads as Harry and Louise who question why the government is getting involved in health care.

The ads were aimed at the public instead of Washington policy makers and proved very successful in halting the health-care proposal. Other lobbying groups have subsequently used similar strategies.

Ads 'confuse and mislead'
The suit claims Goddard Claussen repeatedly asked to use the characters for other ads, but that permission was refused and that the latest ads opposing limits on cloning research will "confuse" and "mislead" the public and "irreparably injure" HIAA's goodwill.

In a statement today, Goddard Claussen said it believes the suit "is without merit."

CuresNow in a statement said is was "extremely disappointed" over HIAA's lawsuit against its use of Harry and Louise "to help convey our message regarding this very important public issue of stem cell research ... [that] could lead to lifesaving treatments for more than 128 million Americans who suffer from chronic and debilitating conditions."

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