I really like Ford’s ad campaign featuring average buyers as celebrities at a news conference. It’s really effective from a marketing standpoint. But the ad featuring “Chris” really caught my attention:
Chris praised his F-150 in the ad and commended Ford for not taking bailout money. The fact that Chris turns out to be an average guy with a real story—not just an actor—makes it even better. U.S. carmakers typically take aim at other manufacturers, not each other. The ad apparently struck a chord with lots of viewers, and a nerve in the Obama administration.
According to Detroit News reporter Daniel Howes, a few calls from the White House prompted Ford to pull the ad. This is officially denied by both parties, but apparently acknowledged privately by several executives at Ford.
Ford claims the ad is simply being removed from the rotation like other ads, but this explanation is a little weak considering the positive attention it has brought to the company. Besides, Ford initially pulled the ad from youtube as well and then reloaded it, suggesting that there’s more to the story than their public statement suggests. Chris has even released his own video on youtube:
If you didn’t think the White House would stop at nothing to run the U.S. auto industry for union benefit, you haven’t been paying close attention. Whether it’s cash for clunkers, CAFE standard changes, Chevy Volt subsidies, tax deals for GM’s alternative energy R&D, or the DOT’s Ray LaHood persecuting Toyota at taxpayer expense, this administration is committed to GM’s “success” at all cost. Ford’s success without bailout money has become a black eye to the administration; Ford must be brought in line.
Now it’s time for Ford to negotiate the next UAW deal. It’s not surprising that the GM contract is the starting point for negotiations. But the GM contract would have never even existed without a bailout. Its wages and benefits have been artificially inflated at taxpayer expense. Under the threat of a strike, Ford is being pressured to top GM’s contract without government support. This places Ford at a taxpayer-subsidized economic disadvantage.
The contract deal will be interesting to say the least because Ford must negotiate directly with the UAW and indirectly with the White House. Saving GM from its self-inflicted demise was not good enough. Sooner or later, Toyota, Ford and every other competitor must be cut down to size as well.