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Don’t Leave Home Without Your Mojo

Times Staff Writer

Andy Roddick’s mojo was a no-show at the U.S. Open this week, leaving corporate sponsor American Express and Roddick fans to ponder “Where’s Andy?”

Roddick’s first-round loss to Gilles Muller of Luxembourg on Tuesday night sent American Express scrambling to revise a cheeky advertising campaign that was supposed to have tracked the 23-year-old American’s anticipated advance through the tournament.

Roddick’s loss unintentionally echoed the credit card company’s sleek campaign -- which included a television commercial, billboards and an Internet website -- that shows Roddick tossing his racquet in disgust after a poor showing on the court.

In the advertisement, which features the tagline “Where’s Andy’s mojo?” Roddick’s cocky attitude on the court clearly is missing. His mojo -- and his American Express card -- have been borrowed by a Roddick alter-ego who uses the star’s card to finance a night on the town.

On Tuesday, however, what went missing was Roddick’s backhand.

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An American Express website, www.andysmojo.com, still promises to deliver another chapter in Roddick’s mojo search, but American Express spokeswoman Judy Tenzer acknowledged Thursday that the campaign requires “some appropriate adjustments.”

Tenzer added that while the company was “disappointed for Andy, [we] know that there’s always the next tournament.”

Calls to Roddick’s agent were not returned. Roddick’s website, www.andyroddick.com, included the headline: “Mojo can’t help as Andy crashes.”

American Express isn’t the only advertiser to have egg on its face after tying a campaign to an athlete who failed to perform up to expectations. Reebok generated unwanted headlines before the 1992 Summer Olympics when one of its chosen decathletes failed to qualify for the U.S. team.

“There’s always a risk when you associate your campaign with an athlete,” said Scott Becher, president of Sports & Sponsorships, a Hollywood, Fla.-based sports marketing firm.

Muller, meanwhile, is looking for his own mojo, having fallen Thursday to doubles partner Robby Ginepri, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.


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