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December 19, 2005

First it equivocated, then it denied that its decision to withdraw advertising from gay community publications had anything to do with its recent meetings with leaders from the anti-gay American Family Association. Finally Ford Motor Company released a statement which not only denied there was ever any agreement with the AFA, but that due to the perception that there was, it would once more advertise in gay publications and support gay fundraising events. Speaking for Ford, V.P. Joe W. Laymon said "It is my hope that this will remove any ambiguity about Ford's desire to advertise to all important audiences and put this particular issue behind us."

It was a stunning reversal for the AFA, which had trumpeted its victory over Ford only days earlier, and then remained mute while howls of protest flew at Ford from all quarters. Among the raised voices were powerful shareholders, like the administrator of the New York State Local Retirement System, Comptroller Alan Hevesi. On Friday Hevesi confirmed that he had contacted Ford Chairman William Ford Jr. directly, to voice his displeasure over the apparent deal with the AFA.

It took about a day for AFA chair Donald Wildmon to find his voice, but when he did he asserted that there had indeed been an agreement between them and Ford, which Ford had now broken. But Wildmon stopped short of announcing that the AFA boycott would resume, saying merely that it was still an option.

You get the feeling that the ferocity of the reaction to the AFA's announcement took even them by surprise. Whether there was ever agreement between the AFA and Ford, and how formal, may never be known. But the newsmagazine Business Week reported that by creating the perception that Ford had given the AFA what they wanted, they had angered several Ford executives, and notably CEO William Ford. If that's true, then the AFA comes out of this worse off then when it went into it, having not only failed in their goal, but also making asses out of themselves in the bargain.

Copyright © December 19, 2005 by Bruce Garrett
All Rights Reserved.


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