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Tuna Maker Asks Norwood Opponent to Drop ‘Sorry Charlie’ Ad

September 27, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ StarKist Foods wants a candidate seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood to can a political ad that bears a fishy resemblance to the tuna maker’s famous ``Sorry, Charlie″ commercials.

Democrat David Bell’s ad chides Norwood, a Republican, for his opposition to environmental measures. At one point, it depicts a cartoon fish while a voice says, ``Sorry, Charlie.″

StarKist’s lawyers called the Bell campaign Friday to protest, saying the ad infringes on the company’s copyright of Charlie the Tuna _ a character it has used to sell canned tuna for about 35 years.

``We’re not in politics. We are a canned tuna manufacturer,″ said Debbie Bolding, spokeswoman for Newport, Ky.,-based StarKist. ``It is not an exact duplication of our Charlie. But it is close enough that we’ve had consumer response. It’s obviously confusing to people.″

StarKist was tipped off to Bell’s ad by the Norwood campaign, which sent the company a tape of the commercial. Bell hasn’t agreed to yank the ad, said Matt Bodman, Bell’s campaign manager.

Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole has had similar problems with sport shoe giant Nike, which has objected to Dole’s ``Just Don’t Do It″ anti-drug slogan as too similar to its own ``Just Do It″ ad campaign.

Dole also got into trouble for his ``I’m a Dole Man″ take on the Sam and Dave song ``Soul Man.″ After the music company that owns the rhythm and blues hit demanded $100,000 per use, the campaign stopped playing its version.

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