LITTLE ROCK — Two advertising agents who created a Gatorade ad featuring Michael Jordan want the state Democratic Party to stop running radio ads they say use music and lyrics they wrote without their permission.

LITTLE ROCK — Two advertising agents who created a Gatorade ad featuring Michael Jordan want the state Democratic Party to stop running radio ads they say use music and lyrics they wrote without their permission.


The Democratic Party says the music and lyrics in the ads are original.


A lawyer for the ad agents sent a cease-and-desist letter dated Tuesday to the state Democratic Party and radio stations airing the ads. According to the letter, in 1991 Bernie Pitzel and Ira Antelis developed the "Be Like Mike" ad campaign for Gatorade that featured Jordan.


Maumelle lawyer George Ritter wrote in the letter that six radio ads produced by the Democratic Party of Arkansas copy that ad campaign, with the theme changed from "Be Like Mike" to "I Believe in Mike," in reference to Democratic candidate for governor Mike Ross.


"These ads have been produced using stolen lyrics and music from the Michael Jordan Gatorade ads," Ritter’s letter states.


On Wednesday, T. Benton Smith, attorney for the state Democratic Party, sent Ritter a letter asserting that the ads, which The Design Group created for the party, violate no law.


"There are no ‘stolen lyrics and music’ as you allege. In fact, the lyrics are not the same, it contains original instrumentation, music and talent," Smith wrote.


State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb issued a statement Wednesday calling on state Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Insalaco to remove the ads.


"At a minimum, Mr. Insalaco owes an apology to not only the gentlemen whose property he stole, but also to every voter that he tried to deceive with the use of someone else’s property. He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t hear from Michael Jordan before this is all over," Webb said.


Ross said he had not seen the letter and said his campaign did not commission the ad.


"It sounds like a last-minute dirty trick — I’m sure you’re going to see a lot of those in the next six days — but I don’t know," he said.


Ross is vying with Republican Asa Hutchinson, Green Party candidate Joshua Drake and Libertarian Frank Gilbert to succeed Gov. Mike Beebe, who is prohibited by term limits from seeking a third term.