Monday, December 05, 2005

Have You Driven a Ford Lately? Maybe You Shouldn't

Unless you've been living in a cage, you know that the American auto industry is in a bad fix. While Chrysler is doing well with the help of it's German friends, Ford and GM are struggling. A lot of this is self imposed, with both companies placing too many eggs in the Truck/SUV market and not enough in cars. Both companies need to start making good cars and getting people to buy them. And they can't afford to be choosy about who buys them, they just need a lot of green coming in.

So, I'm a little perplex about Ford reaching an agreement with American Family Association. My friend Randy Stern reports that Ford will pull advertising from gay media such as the Advocate (high-end brands like Volvo and Jaguar are exempted) and in exchange, the American Family Association won't boycott the automaker.

Hmmm...last I checked, there isn't a big market of Christian bigots chomping at the bit to buy Fords. There is however a large GLBT market that is willing to buy cars and this silly move by Ford will only give them more impetus to by a Toyota or Honda over a Ford.

Ford really isn't in a position to be dissing an important market that could save it's behind. I doubt that the American Family Association is going to start steering their people Ford's now that they aren't advertising in those nasty gay publications.

A few years ago, the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler's List, the movie about the Holocaust made it's network debut. Ford bought up all the advertising for the broadcast so that it could run nearly uninterrupted. It was a bold symbolic move for the automaker, because it's founder Henry Ford was a known anti-semite. In it's own way it was trying to make up for the past.

I applauded Ford then. I condemn them now for bowing to the modern day version of anti-semites who treat gay people like vermin all in the name of Jesus.

If Ford decides to do this, then they deserve to go out of business. I know that this gay man won't buy a Ford and I will urge others to do so.

8 Comments:

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Mitch/Mike said...

Interesting post. This was a symbolic move by Ford. Ford was only advertising their Premier Auto Group brands (Aston Martin, Jaguar, Volvo) in GLBT publications prior to the boycott threat anyway. There was very little or no advertising of the Ford and Mercury brands geared toward the GLBT community. This is a move that highlights the utter stupidity of the AFA, not to mention the virtual blindness caused by their hatred. Ford essentially told them that they would not do something they were already not doing. You can decide not to buy a Ford if you want to, but you will be boycotting one of the most gay friendly companies in the US by doing so. Michigan is one of the 20 or so states with a constitutional ban on same sex marriage, and many Michigan based companies have stopped offering benefits to same sex domestic partners for fear of being in violation of the law. Ford continues to do so. Same sex domestic partners of Ford employees are treated exactly like spouses in every respect. And Ford has a very strict zero tolerance policy against discrimination of any kind not only in its workforce but also among its vendors. The AFA will once again claim victory where there was no result. Are you boycotting Disney? The AFA claimed victory in that boycott, too.

 
At 7:46 PM, Blogger Brian said...

In fairness, Ford says that there was no quid pro quo and that it had already planned to cut advertising for those lines and that it would increase advertising for one of its other models in the Advocate.

 
At 10:44 PM, Blogger Marty Grimes said...

I have a hard time believing that Ford didn't capitulate to AFA given the way Donald Wildmon is running around declaring victory.

Here's an excerpt from my blog:

Ford has insisted that this is strictly a "business decision."

This "business decision" is the crux of the problem. We've been making great headway in Corporate America by arguing the "business case" for diversity. Offering domestic partnership benefits doesn't cost much, but attracts highly talented employees, we've argued successfully. Promoting respect and inclusion increases productivity, we attest, because employees who are respected do better work. We don't bother to argue that it's simply the right thing to do.

HRC, which rates companies on a 100-point Corporate Equality Index, explains that corporations are becoming more gay friendly because "fairness is good for business."

But that makes for a dangerous equation. If the AFA folks buy more Fords than we do, we lose. Justice cannot be denied just because it doesn't make money. It may be that Ford has concluded that an Equality Index score of 100 isn't the right mark to aim for. They may decide to go for a sweet spot where the fundamentalists leave them alone; maybe an 82 or a 76.

The bottom line is, indeed, the bottom line. Ford is a corporation that exists to make money. As long as "shareholder value" is the only value that matters in Corporate America, Donald Wildmon will continue to carve notches into his belt.

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger Mitch/Mike said...

Ford capitulated to an organization with around 2.5 million members? Ford sells almost a million Ford TRUCKS alone every year. That doesn't include cars, SUV's, vans, heavy duty trucks, and PAG models like Land Rover, Jaguar, and Volvo. I hesitate to say this because I don't want to seem one-sided, but I have some inside information; I work for Ford. This company has been cutting costs for the past couple of years, and they are finding creative ways of doing so in order to avoid the massive layoffs of companies like GM. If the people that read GLBT publications don't usually buy Ford models en masse, it makes no sense for Ford to spend the money on advertising in that sector. But readers of publications like The Advocate DO buy Premier models, and are a very important part of the success of PAG, which is why it makes sense for Ford to continue to advertise those products in those publications. Got to the AFA website sometime and read the articles. Most of the time, they quote none other than Donald Wildmon, which tells me that this is mostly a one-man operation. I just don't see a huge company like Ford or Target capitulating to a one-man freakshow like him. Anybody can claim victory and carve notches in his belt; that doesn't make it true.

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger Randy Stern said...

Dennis, thank you for linking back to my coverage of this. The story is continuing with news of a meeting between Ford executives and several GLBT groups. It has been confirmed that the NGLTF is among this group.

Right now, I find it amazing how our community has been reacting. On Autoblog.com, GLBT automotive enthusiasts are involved with flame wars with complete idiots. I've found some of these strings frustrating as the same arguments are used to try to win over the "silent majority."

On the other hand, while the AFA is promoting "Narnia," some of us are attending said film. Why hasn't anyone formed a double action against Ford and the film?

I am curious as to how this meeting between Ford and the GLBT PACs will turn out. It is sad that GLBT Ford owners, enthusiasts and common folks are not involved in these talks.

 
At 8:58 PM, Blogger Zafrod said...

According to CNN, Ford had stated they will return to advertising in GLBT publications.

This may be one of those times we want to be gracious and accept the appology. =)

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Mitch/Mike said...

Yes, Ford has decided to advertise all of its products in GLBT publications. In ordert o do so, Ford will be reducing charitable donations. Happy?

 
At 2:02 PM, Blogger Zafrod said...

Happy? That depends entirely on the charities being cut. Regardless, that kind of buck-passing doesn't hold muster. Even if the original decision was a business decision, it was bad business to make that decision at a time when it would give the appearance of buckling to pressure from an activist group. So I guess I have a tough time feeling sorry for Ford... they should have known better. They certainly will next time.

 

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