Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ford reverses stance, says it will advertise in gay publications

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From the Washington Blade: Ford to advertise in gay publications Automaker shifts gears after initial refusal to budge for gay leaders By ANDREW KEEGAN | Dec 14, 5:14 PM Ford Motor Company issued a statement Wednesday reaffirming its commitment to diversity and pledging to advertise all of its brands in gay publications. The announcement was the second by the company since a meeting on Monday between a coalition of gay rights groups and the automaker. The statement was in response to reports last week that Ford made a deal with the conservative American Family Association to cease some advertising in gay publications and support for gay organizations to avoid a boycott. Media reports said Ford had agreed to not advertise its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications. "It is clear there is a misconception about our intent," said Joe Laymon, a Ford V.P., in the Dec. 14 statement. "As a result we have decided to run ads in these target publications that will include not only Jaguar and Land Rover, but all eight of Ford’s brands." Representatives of the gay organizations that met with Ford praised the company’s actions in a joint statement. "It is an unequivocal reaffirmation of Ford’s historic commitment to our community and the core American values of fairness and equality," the statement said. "Moreover, it is conclusive proof of what Ford leaders have repeatedly assured us — that there never was any deal with anti-LGBT organizations concerning Ford’s support for our community." "The most important issue here is that Ford was not intimidated [by the AFA]," said Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, in an interview Wednesday. "It sends a message to the rest of corporate America." Initial refusal to budge The first statement issued by Ford, hours after meeeting with gay leaders on Monday, reaffirmed the automaker's commitment to diversity but stopped short of reversing its decision to pull advertising from gay publications. "We value all people regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences," Bill Ford, chair and CEO of Ford, said in the statement issued Monday. "This is a historical commitment of the Ford Motor Company that I intend to carry forward." The company originally announced its decision to stop advertising its Land Rover and Jaguar brands in the gay press soon after two Ford executives met in Tupelo, Miss., with representatives from the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group that had threatened a boycott over the issue. After the Tupelo meeting, AFA leaders publicly claimed credit for successfully pressuring the company on its advertising decisions. Ford will reportedly continue to advertise its Volvo brand in the gay media but will no longer use gay-specific images in those ads. The Ford statement released Monday did not mention the advertising decisions or its support for gay organizations and events, but also did not back off from its previous public commitments to pull back on both. "The automotive industry is a highly competitive business," the Ford statement said. "During these budget-tightening times, our brands must make tough choices where to advertise and how to spend limited sponsorship dollars." Giuliano, the GLAAD president, was among the gay leaders who met with Ford and said Monday night he was "shocked and disturbed" by the company's statement. "The statement from Ford does not begin to address the issues we discussed in our meeting," Giuliano said Monday. "It clearly shows that they do not have an understanding of our positions, nor are they willing to distance themselves, and specifically correct, the statements that have been made by the AFA." Giuliano said gay leaders asked Ford to continue supporting gay organizations and events, continue using gay-specific imagery in ads for the company's Volvo brand placed in gay media, speficially disavow any deal made with the AFA on any of these points, and commit to continue advertising, at least at some level, the Jaguar and Land Rover brands in the gay media. Giuliano called the last issue "a deal-breaker" for the gay rights groups. He said the Ford representatives verbally agreed to each of the requests, but that the statement released Monday failed to adequately address even one of them. He also faulted the company for not specifically mentioning in the statement Monday's meeting in Washington, D.C., with gay leaders or the company's commitment specifically to gay and lesbian consumers. Original source ===== Wonder how pissed off the AFA will be now that its beloved Ford Motor Company has basically said they are going to ignore their bigotry and hatred? The AFA thought they had won out this time... guess they were fooled. Wonder if they will start up their little boycott. Ha Ha. See this just all goes to show that tolerance, acceptance and diversity will always win out, eventually, over hate, bigotry, discrimination and prejudice. And YAY! Now I can keep driving my good ole F-150 (she's my baby, lol) without feeling bad. :)