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Another Reason Not to Buy a Ford

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 7:26 pm - December 6, 2005.
Filed under: Gay America

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.

UP-UPDATE: While Christian Grantham is incorrect in assuming I feel “betrayed, targeted and vengeful toward Ford,” he offers a different perspective on this which is well worth reading:

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.

UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: Reviewing the letter than Eva posted on her blog, Christian Grantham suggests (yet again) that Ford’s decision was market-based:

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.

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29 Comments

  1. I have to disagree with you here, bro (and I hate to do so), but a company simply deciding not to advertise in Gay publications is not about hating gays or discrimination.

    First, homosexual magazines are a fringe market. Don’t gays also read Time or GQ or Details?

    Second, this is a market driven economy; if Ford felt that it would be in its financial best interest to not market in gay publications, it should be free to do so without critique.

    Third, with pensions in crisis, we (as tax payers) should welcome any efforts to make more money and be a more solid company.

    Last, if Bloomindales decided it wasn’t worth the money to advertise in WWE Smackdown magazine or Ebony, would that be discrimination or would that be smart marketing.

    Comment by Aaron of LifelikePundits — December 6, 2005 @ 8:40 pm - December 6, 2005

  2. For has to make a car that actually runs without breaking down all the time and appeals to the American consumer before I’ll care.

    Comment by Average Gay Joe — December 6, 2005 @ 8:56 pm - December 6, 2005

  3. -I have to disagree with you here, bro (and I hate to do so), but a company simply deciding not to advertise in Gay publications is not about hating gays or discrimination.-

    It is when even one of their own spokespeople go along with the AFA’s claim that Ford pulled their ads solely because of this boycott.

    http://advocate.com/news_detail_ektid23064.asp

    “When first contacted, Ford spokesman Moran referred Advocate.com to the AFA statement, suggesting that the company had no disagreement with Wildmon’s assertions.”

    If you want to know more about the AFA, you can go here. (it’s a few years out of date)

    http://www.afaexposed.com

    One of the Ford employees who brokered this deal, Ziad Ojakli, worked for Mark Souder and Dan Coats. Coats was a senator who fought hard to maintain a ban on gays in the military. Mark Souder is a Congressman. I’m going to post some links on Mark Souder, and you can tell how he feels about gays.

    http://www.issues2000.org/IN/Mark_Souder_Civil_Rights.htm

    Group sues to block gay-themed play at Indiana college

    http://www.freedomforum.org/templates/document.asp?documentID=14331

    Another on Souder and gays

    http://www.laweekly.com/ink/03/03/news-ireland.php

    This seems to me like Ford caving to anti-gay extremism.

    Comment by Carl — December 6, 2005 @ 8:56 pm - December 6, 2005

  4. I make a practice of not supporting “boycotts” that are based on the statements of hatemongering liars like John Aravosis.

    Perhaps those who are so quick to believe what these alleged “gay-rights” organizations are pushing would like to sign on to the rationalization and smear campaign being mounted by their surrogates on Americablog.

    Let’s call this what it is, which is extortion. Aravosis uses “campaigns” like this to fleece his readers into giving him more money and, presumably, to getting corporations to pay him “hush money” for not launching blog attacks against them as well.

    Personally, I drive a Mazda3, which is also partly owned by Ford, based on the Euro Focus and Volvo S40; prior to that, it was an F-150, then a Mustang, then an Escape, then an F-350, F-250, F-150, Topaz, Explorer, Tempo, and Lynx.

    And now, I am even more likely to buy a Ford, because doing so will piss off the lying extremists like Aravosis that think it their business to pry into other peoples’ lives, but do their best to hide and obscure their own, whining about “privacy”.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 6, 2005 @ 9:05 pm - December 6, 2005

  5. I just wrote to the Ford directors asking in who’s interests is Mr. Ojakli’s acting…Ford’s or the AFA? And closed that I will in-future “think-twice” before buying a Ford Motor Comapny product or doing business with a Ford affilitate. On the surface it appears that Ford kow-towed to the AFA, not that they made a rational “business decision” to put their dollars elsewhere. At this point, it’s Ford management that has to “earn” my trust.

    Why shoud I reward blatant pressure-tactic bigotry?

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — December 6, 2005 @ 9:15 pm - December 6, 2005

  6. As for there being no connection;

    From Wards Auto,
    “Ford Averts Potential Boycott” By Cliff Banks and Steve Miller, Nov 30 2005
    …” In a Nov. 29 meeting at AFA headquarters in Tupelo, MS, David Leitch, general counsel and vice president for Ford, and Ziad Ojakli, group vice president-Corporate Affairs, along with Dallas-area Ford dealer Jerry Reynolds, hammered out a deal. “We are ending the boycott of Ford,” said Donald E. Wildmon, Chairman of AFA. “While we still have a few differences with Ford, we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future.” A Ford spokesman says the two parties had a “broad discussion” and deferred to the AFA to announce the reconciliation details. “….

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — December 6, 2005 @ 9:16 pm - December 6, 2005

  7. Aaron in #1, please note that I’m not calling this discrimination. Ford made a choice which, I believe, they have every right to make. And others are free to choose as well–by not buying a Ford.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — December 6, 2005 @ 9:30 pm - December 6, 2005

  8. Were you saying the same thing when this took place, Ted B.?

    The boycott suspension was declared soon after the owner of a Ford dealership in Dallas, Jerry Reynolds, was alerted to the boycott and grew concerned that it might impact his business. Reynolds said he contacted AFA Executive Director Tim Wildmon, arranged a meeting between the AFA and concerned dealers and struck a suspension deal.

    “If I can get some top Ford executives to sit down with you and your group, would you suspend the boycott?” Reynolds said he asked Wildmon. The longtime conservative activists immediately agreed, Reynolds said.

    Reynolds said the aim of the meeting with Ford is to “see what things most bother [the AFA] and what can be changed to make them happy,” Reynolds said.
    “If the AFA has input into the marketing content, it could have benefits to both Ford and the AFA,” he said.

    “I believe in family values, too. I’m a Christian, too,” Reynolds added.

    When the boycott was announced just a week earlier, Ford responded with a statement that it valued all people, including gay men and lesbians. Ford said, “We are glad to see that this spirit of inclusion is evident in the practices of other auto-makers that do business in this country as well.”

    An AFA representative confirmed suspension of the boycott in an e-mail but declined to explain why it was lifted.

    And if you want to see sheer hypocrisy at work:

    The Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force released statements celebrating the quick end to the boycott.

    Both groups said that they were not concerned that Ford had agreed to meet with the AFA.

    “Ford has made it very clear that they will not respond to AFA demands, and the AFA has backed down,” said Roberta Sklar, communications director for the Task Force. “We have no reason to be concerned about Ford having a conversation with the AFA.”

    As for the “connection”, get real. Most people who aren’t gearheads don’t even know that Ford owns Land Rover and Jaguar. Furthermore, if the point of the AFA was to eliminate all Ford advertising in gay publications, why’d they leave Volvo there?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 6, 2005 @ 9:30 pm - December 6, 2005

  9. So Ford doesn’t want to advertise in “gay” magazines. So what? It’s a Free Country. This is not a cause for alarm and is actually quite the opposite. The way I see it, the fact that the gay community is no longer worthy of being kow-towed to means that we’re yesterday’s news (i.e., we’ve arrived). And it’s about time. Personally, I was getting pretty damn tired of being “the gay guy” in the crowd. Now, I’m apparently just a guy, at least to Ford. So good for them, good for you, and good for me. Hopefully, “gay magazines” will be the next thing to disappear, followed by “gay TV shows”, “gay Pride Day”, “gay cruises”, “gay neighbhorhoods”, “gay this and gay that”, etc., etc.

    Comment by glisteny — December 6, 2005 @ 9:58 pm - December 6, 2005

  10. Ford has insisted that this is strictly a “business decision.” If Ford really just decided to pull the ads because they weren’t effective, then why is Donald Wildmon so smugly declaring victory?

    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.

    Until we hold corporations accoutable for more than their profits, this is what we can continue to expect. Ultimately, LGBT equality in the workplace will be a house of cards until society holds corporations accountable for more than making a buck.

    More at martymusings.blogspot.com

    Comment by Marty — December 6, 2005 @ 10:06 pm - December 6, 2005

  11. Boycotts are a way the market sends signals from buyers to sellers. If we don’t like what the AFA is doing, we need to make it less painful to Ford to be friendly than cater to the religious right. If you don’t like what’s happening then you must let Ford know and vote with your pocketbook.

    It seems to me that there are two likely interpretations of what those involved are saying.

    First Ford could absolutly be telling the truth that this is a business decision. They very well may have concluded that pissed off Christians are more damaging to the bottom line than angry gays.

    Alternatively, the AFA may be Naderizing the situation by claiming credit for something that is not really a result of their efforts. Then if Ford reverses its decision they can state that ford is “breaking its commitment to Christians” and “caving to the homosexual extremists”.

    Either way I see this a an economic, not moral, issue.

    Comment by Bobo — December 6, 2005 @ 11:06 pm - December 6, 2005

  12. Thanks, guys, this has been one of the best comment threads on any post I’ve written. And without any invective. So many people raising valid points–and often with facts (& links) as well as solid arguments.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — December 7, 2005 @ 3:33 am - December 7, 2005

  13. I’m not sure who won this battle, but just because the AFA says there is a connection doesnt mean there is one. Both sides want to be able to declare a victory. If Ford drops its advertising budget by $100 million all publications are going to take a hit. Maybe market research has shown that gays buy more volvos (which is why that Ford brand will continue to be advertised in gay publications) and less jaguars and land rovers (which is why those Ford brands are not going to be advertised in gay publications). If more gay people bought Fords to begin with, the outcome of this may have been different.

    Also, I always thought FORD stood for Found On Road Dead (although, to be honest, I’ve always had goos experiences with their products).

    Comment by PatriotPal — December 7, 2005 @ 10:25 am - December 7, 2005

  14. Ford is making massive spending cuts all over. I didn’t buy it at first, but now I’m starting to believe this is a financial decision. Of course, I think a smarter financial decision would be to make cars people want to buy. I won’t be buying a Ford any time soon and it has nothing to do with this.

    Comment by Dale in L.A. — December 7, 2005 @ 12:11 pm - December 7, 2005

  15. Correct me if I’m wrong…. but I’m surprised that Ford caved to the AFA…. don’t their members usually just put their Fords up on cinder blocks in front of their trailers?

    Comment by JimNYC — December 7, 2005 @ 12:33 pm - December 7, 2005

  16. There’s a follow-up in Wards Auto that casts doubt on the “just a business decision” theory;

    …” Ford Motor Co.’s decision to cease advertising in gay publications for its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands is part of a truce between the auto maker and the American Family Assn. (AFA) to avert a threatened boycott by the right-wing Christian conservative group, Ward’s learns….

    As part of the latest agreement hammered out Nov. 29, sources confirm Volvo Cars will continue to advertise in the publications but will use generic ads not tailored to the gay community. In addition, Ford has agreed not to sponsor any future gay and lesbian events but will continue to maintain its employee policies, such as same-sex partner benefits. “….

    Avarosis may be an axe-grinder, but Wards Auto is a industry trade publication that I would expect has no horse in this race. The senior management at Ford is answerable to the Ford Family directly, not to the stockholders. The Ford family still has outright controlling-interst in the company and on the Board through it’s special-class of voting stock; the equity stockholders are merely along for the financial ride.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — December 7, 2005 @ 12:53 pm - December 7, 2005

  17. And apparently no ability to identify their “sources”, either.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 7, 2005 @ 8:32 pm - December 7, 2005

  18. ooohh…..looks like glisteny didn’t get asked to the prom…. maybe you should channel your anger productively rather than hate a whole community. SOUR GRAPES MUCH!

    Comment by Just Askin' — December 8, 2005 @ 9:56 am - December 8, 2005

  19. FYI — this was a letter sent internally at the Land Rover/Jaguar division of Ford from the division’s president. I’ve deleted the names and phone numbers.

    Dear Jaguar and Land Rover Employees,

    The media have reported that Jaguar and Land Rover will no longer
    advertise in GLBT publications, and they have linked it to the
    American Family Association’s threatened boycott of Ford Motor
    Company.

    Jaguar and Land Rover have decided not to advertise in gay
    publications in 2006. The decision was taken entirely for business
    reasons, and reflects a sharpening of our media focus and pressure on
    our marketing budgets. We have chosen to work with much fewer print
    title partners across the board next year. For instance, Jaguar will
    cut the general market print titles it uses from 56 in 2005 to 34 in
    2006 (equivalent to a reduction of 40%) and it will reduce automotive
    enthusiast titles by 25%. Obviously, marketing plans for future years
    beyond 2006 have not been determined.

    Jaguar and Land Rover value diversity among all of our constituents
    and pride ourselves on strong and clear values – respect for our
    customers, communities, employees, suppliers and dealers; acceptance
    of our differences; inclusion of different people with different
    perspectives; and integrity to always do the right thing. We value
    all people – regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual
    orientation and cultural or physical differences. This is a strong
    commitment we intend to carry forward with no exception.

    If you receive media inquiries please forward to ***,
    Corporate Affairs Manager in Mahwah at ***. If you receive
    customer inquiries, as always, forward to either Jaguar at
    1-800-4-JAGUAR or Land Rover at 1-800-637-6837.

    Comment by PatriotPal — December 8, 2005 @ 2:44 pm - December 8, 2005

  20. #18 Wrong, darlin’. I don’t hate a whole community, just you. SISSY MUCH?

    Comment by glisteny — December 8, 2005 @ 5:42 pm - December 8, 2005

  21. I’ve been corresponding with Jerry Reynolds – the Texas dealer who brokered the meeting with the AFA. He was not aware who the AFA was when he got 25 calls from customers – and 100 emails – complaining about Ford and mentioning the boycott. He reacted badly – by contacting the AFA to try to get them to call off the boycott. At this point, he regrets this – but he’s not a bad guy – or a homophobe. He has advertised in the Dallas Voice – and has donated vehicles to Dallas Gay Pride in the past – and gotten hate calls and mail for doing that.

    I’d suggest calling local Ford dealers – but be nice.

    Comment by Eva Young — December 9, 2005 @ 1:13 am - December 9, 2005

  22. Hi There! … Did you change this blog lately? Something looks different.

    Comment by Ford F-150 — January 16, 2006 @ 6:05 am - January 16, 2006

  23. This thread is dead, but I only happened on it now and will leave my two cents.

    My partner and I bought a Ford Escape XLT which makes the Honda CR-v and Toyota Rav 4 seem dainty by comparison. Our Ford Escape is a 6 cylinder, fast and yet handles well in traffic and parking places. It’s a solid, small SUV.

    So far, it’s been a great car andwe enjoy taking it everywhere — from short to long trips and we’ve never had a problem.

    Just saying.

    Comment by Jared — January 19, 2006 @ 11:51 pm - January 19, 2006

  24. Blog Comment:

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  25. i agree dude that is kind of a crap rule think about the the freaken handicap i’m still kid but i know for a fact that a bullshit rule. the employees might be board of ford.

    Comment by jeremy — March 1, 2006 @ 7:30 pm - March 1, 2006

  26. beet that

    Comment by jeremy — March 1, 2006 @ 7:35 pm - March 1, 2006

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