AmEx, Chase Lawsuit Fizzles; Campaign Unclear

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Although the status of a costly million-piece direct mail campaign could not be determined, spokesmen at both Chase Manhattan Corp. and American Express Co. in New York confirmed last week that a lawsuit filed by AmEx against Chase alleging false advertising has been dropped.

Before the settlement, which both parties characterized as "amicable," AmEx said Chase wasn't being upfront enough about an award it was highlighting in a direct mail effort produced by FooteConeBelding, New York.

The award, which Chase had won from J.D. Power & Associates, Agoura Hills, CA, was for high customer satisfaction marks on its platinum MasterCard and Visa credit card products. But American Express pointed out that the survey only covered credit cards and AmEx's platinum card product is technically a charge card.

Since the agreement was reached, there have been published reports saying the settlement will allow the mail campaign to proceed, but no one at Chase, AmEx or FCB would comment specifically on whether the campaign will ultimately mail or if the legal settlement contained provisions for recouping losses on a printed DM campaign that may have to be destroyed.

Ken Herz, a spokesman at Chase, would only say the direct mail "was scheduled to go two weeks ago. There were millions of pieces … but the matter has been resolved amicably."

Gail Wasserman, vice president of public affairs at AmEx, echoed the same line -- "that it was resolved amicably" -- but when pressed as to whether there was a "financial relationship to the amicability," Wasserman, said, "I can't comment."

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