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Ford under fire over gay ad cut

2005-12-07 10:55

The carmaker denied that any deal had been made and insisted that the decision to cease advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications was part of a broad restructuring of the advertising budgets of the two struggling luxury brands.

"There is no confidential agreement," Ford spokesperson Mike Moran told AFP. "Decisions on where Ford's brands advertise are made for business reasons, not as a social statement."

The Volvo brand will continue to advertise in gay publications while the Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brands have never advertised in such publications, Moran said.

"Ford is proud of our record in dealing with people regardless of their race, gender and sexual orientation," he said, noting that Ford expects to continue to support gay and lesbian organisations and activities and that the company began offering same-sex benefits to employees in 2000.

The American Family Association first threatened to boycott Ford in May because the company sponsored Gay Pride parades, supported gay marriage and required managers to attend diversity training.

It set up a now-defunct website detailing the company's policies and highlighting a number of ads which Moran said the group had found "offensive".

The boycott was soon suspended after a group of dealers approached the organisation and asked to help the organisation negotiate with head office. It was cancelled on Friday.

"The dealers are basically our kind of people who share many of our concerns," Donald Wildmon, chairperson of AFA, said in a statement.

"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."

In a letter addressed to the head of the automaker's gay, lesbian and bisexual employee organisation, Ford said it had assured AFA that "we don't intend - directly or indirectly - to take sides on controversial or emotionally-charged social or moral issues".

Moran said he believed the AFA's prime objections were to the "offensive" ads published in gay publications and that Ford assured the organization that those particular ads were no longer running in the United States and had been primarily targeted at a European audience.


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