More Response from Ford to AFA’s “Boycott Victory”
March 13th, 2008
Earlier this week, the American Family Association, declared victory in changing the advertising policy at Ford Motor Company and it’s various brands.
At that time the response from Ford, while encouraging, was not adequately specific to assure me that no agreement had been made or that Ford would continue its relationship with it gay market. But Jeff Bercovici at Conde Nast’s Portfolio.com has contacted Ford and reports the following comments:
But Ford spokesman Jim Cain insists the automaker had made no such promises. “I can tell you there was not a negotiated settlement to this boycott,” he says, sounding somewhat mystified by AFA’s triumphalism.
While Ford has scaled back some of the marketing and philanthropy AFA objects to, any such decreases were merely part of a broader retrenchment in response to dismal market conditions, says Cain. “We’ve been in real financial difficulties. There’s been reduced spending in lots of areas.”
But, he adds, Ford continues to be involved with groups such as PFLAG and Human Rights Campaign, both of which agitate for gay marriage.
I will take the Ford spokesman at his word. And I will watch to see whether any increase in performance at Ford Motor Company will result in the resumption of marketing and philanthropy towards the gay community.
AFA’s Ford Boycott is Over
March 11th, 2008
Two years ago this week the American Family Association declared that they and their anti-gay allies would boycott Ford Motor Company. They had made demands on Ford – which they thought were being met – until gay groups convinced Ford that homophobia would not stand unchallenged. Ford did not want to be portrayed as caving to a campaign of bigotry.
The boycott was called after Ford reneged on an agreement with American Family Association to stop funding homosexual groups which promote homosexual marriage.
Specifically, AFA had insisted on the following:
1. Ford would not renew current promotions or create future incentives that give cash donations to homosexual organizations based on the purchase of a vehicle.
2. Ford would not make corporate donations to homosexual organizations that, as part of their activities, engage in political or social campaigns to promote civil unions or same-sex marriage.
3. Ford would stop giving cash and vehicle donations or endorsements to homosexual social activities such as Gay Pride parades.
4. Ford would cease all advertising in homosexual websites and media outlets (magazines, television, radio) in the U.S. with the exception of $100,000 to be used by Volvo. The Volvo ads would be the same ads used in the general media and not aimed at the homosexual community specifically.
Now the AFA is lifting their boycott. They believe that their demands have been met.
Concerned over the claims, blogger Joe.My.God contacted Ford. He received the following reassurances (more details at his site):
The AFA has made its decision and is ready to move on. Our principles have not changed. We are committed to treating everyone fairly and with respect, including our dealers, customers and employees. Ford will continue to market its products widely to attract as many customers as possible and make charitable contributions to strengthen communities to the extent business conditions allow. Difficult business conditions in recent years have reduced our overall spending across the board.
Generally, gay bloggers seem to read in the above statement some indication that Ford remains committed to marketing to the gay community. I wish that I was so convinced.
I have found that when questions like, “Do you love me” elicit vague responses such as, “I love everyone”, the real answer is “no”. This is especially true when questions of gay rights and equality enter the picture.
You seldom find a raging homophobe or dedicated anti-gay activist who doesn’t “love the person bound by homosexuality”. Every argument against hate crimes includes “we oppose crimes against all people”. Every opposition to non-discrimination policies is phrased, “we oppose discrimination against everyone but don’t think special groups should be listed”.
So when I read non-specific vague promises of “treating everyone fairly” and “market [our] products widely to attract as many customers as possible”, my first assumption is that Ford will no longer be target marketing the gay community. If you intend on continuing advertising to gay customers, well you just say so. Ford’s statement didn’t even mention the word “gay”, much less any indication that AFA’s claim is without basis.
I believe it is still far too soon to know what has been promised or what will occur. Ford will have ample opportunity to clarify whether any concessions have been made to AFA and that all advertising in gay media will cease. Alternately, Ford could run an add next month in the Advocate.
So far I find this situation troubling. But I’m sure that by June I’ll know whether or not to take “Don’t Buy Ford” signs to gay pride.