When I returned from living in Europe, I determined to buy an American car. As I looked around and test drove various makes and models, a co-worker warned me against buying a Ford, saying that when she owed that make, she was constantly taking her car into the shop for repairs. I eventually settled on a Chevy Corsica as it handled the best of the cars I could then afford. That car, Mary Anne I, lasted more than eight years.
That car-buying experience was not the first time I heard about problems with Fords. Other friends have leveled similar complaints against that American manufacturer. To be fair, I will note that friends and family driving the larger Ford models, e.g., pickup trucks and SUVs, have been quite satisfied with their cars.
That said, if my VW, Mary Anne II, ever fails me, I will be much less likely to consider a Ford given the news I read this morning. The Company announced “that its luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands will no longer advertise in gay publications.” While Ford denies that it made the decision based on pressure for social conservative Christian groups, the American Family Association (AFA) is declaring victory and ending a boycott of the company it had begun in May when it determined that Ford was “too gay-friendly.”
Although Ford won’t advertise certain models in gay publications, it will “continue its policies recognizing the rights of its gay employees.” So, the news is not entirely bleak.
Perhaps because Ford is retaining its nondiscrimination policy, I’m not as upset by this decision as much as some gay activists are. I see the free market at work and realize that gay people can protest Ford’s decision with their pocketbooks, by choosing not to buy Ford automobiles.
Just as gay groups can vote with their pocketbooks, so too can social conservatives. Certain companies, like Disney (of which I am proud shareholder) did not buckle when the AFA boycotted it for its gay-friendly policies. The boycott had little effect on the company. The AFA ended it nine-year boycott against that family-friendly company in May (the same time it began its boycott of Ford & I wonder if the two events are linked).
Perhaps, Ford’s executives think more social conservatives will buy Ford automobiles if they stop advertising in gay publications. It’s a free country and social conservatives can buy cars wherever they like, based on whatever criteria they choose. But, so can I. As I have written before:
In the free market, if a socially conservative Christian does not wish to buy a product because the company which produces it has policies which he doesn’t like, he is free not to. Similarly, a gay man or lesbian can refuse to buy a product from a company whose policies he or she abhors.
Since Ford has apparently chosen to stop advertising in only gay publications, I — as well as other gay and lesbian (and other sympathetic) Americans — will choose not to a consider Ford when we shop for a new car.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
(Of course if Ford indicated that they weren’t advertising in these periodicals because of their liberal bias and also agreed to pull its ads from other publications with a similar political slant, I may well be more likely to consider a Ford when it’s time to retire Mary Anne II.)
UPDATE: After reading this post, a friend e-mailed me to note that FORD is actually an acronym for Fix Or Repair Daily.
I don’t blame Ford. Gay newspapers are the wrong venue for a prestigious American company like Ford. Besides, I personally don’t know a single gay or lesbian that drives a Ford. Not one. Do you? When Ford says it’s a “business decision” to no longer advertise in gay publications, I look around at the cars my friends drive and easily conclude they are 100% correct.
Now, go read the whole thing!
UP-UP-UPDATE–Eva Young wrote to Garland, Texas Ford Dealer, Jerry Reynolds about his involvement in the deal between Ford and the AFA. She posted his response here. Check it out.
Accepting Ford’s decision amidst significant losses allows Ford the space they need to reassess their marketing strategy and come back to the gay community with something that works. Unfortunately, the choice of a loud minority segment of the gay community that desperately craves acknowledgment from corporate America is promoting a victim response that does nothing to help Ford or gay publications that advertise their products.
UP-UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: Over at Malcontent, the ever adorable Robbie also sees this as a “marketing decision.” He seems amused by “gay activists . . . currently tripping over themselves to express their deep outrage and personal pain over this rejection of who they are” and concludes that “if you’re looking to a car company’s advertising campaign for personal validation, you have bigger problems than a car company’s advertising campaign.” Read the whole thing. (Despite my affection for Robbie, I’m a bit closer to his co-blogger Malcontent on this one.)
UP-UP-UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: GayPatriot pal North Dallas Thirty agrees with Robbie and Christian that, “Ford made a decision to go with what made the most sense for their business,” suggesting that all the hullabaloo is “more about a need to play the victim than it is an intelligent reaction to the issues.” Read the whole thing!
UP-UP-UP-UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: Basically agreeing with ND30, Christian Grantham takes issue with some of the conspiracy theories about Ford’s business decisions.