Ford is the only Detroit automaker that didn’t take the money of the federal auto bailouts, but is paying the price: There’s no help from American taxpayers to help lighten its debt load, giving GM and Chrysler Group relatively better credit ratings and a financial edge.
There’s also no clause barring a strike by hourly workers amid this fall’s national contract talks with the United Auto Workers — a by-product of the taxpayer-financed bailout that GM and Chrysler retain until 2015.
So Ford did, for a time, take advantage of its self-reliant strength for a time in an ad campaign featuring “real people” explaining their decision to buy Ford cars and trucks. In the video, below, a customer named “Chris” says he “wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government,” according the ad, launched in early September.
“I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work,” Chris says.
However, Ford pulled the ad after individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating the controversial bailout policy CEO Alan Mulally repeatedly supported in the past few years. The questions included whether the campaign takes an unnecessary poke at its Detroit rivals and suggests that Ford no longer supports the Obama administration bailouts it backed in public statements and sworn congressional testimony, reported The Detroit News.
The ad came under fire earlier this month when various media outlets began to point out Ford’s apparent hypocrisy. The automaker is not commenting on the decision to pull the ad, but Daniel Howes of The Detroit News reports that “individuals within the White House” called Ford and questioned whether the spot criticized the policy Mulally had repeatedly supported.
An industry source said the White House did not pressure Ford to remove the ad, but Howes suggested it was pulled in response to the call, an assertion the White House again denied.
RBR-TVBR observation: Whether or not the White House questioned the ads’ hypocrisy is probably not the question here. It does seem a bit petty to beat up on GM and Chrysler—implied or not. It may have been right, it may have been wrong, but a lot of jobs were potentially saved and the money has been paid back. Ford may have gained some customers with the campaign, but was right to quickly pull the effort, before a GM campaign began with Mulally on video supporting the bailouts. In this case, Ford should stick to what it does best in its ads—making great cars and trucks.