Ford will advertise in gay publications

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Representatives for the Ford Motor Co. have announced advertisements featuring the company’s eight vehicle brands will run in gay publications, responding to complaints from gay rights groups when Jaguar and Land Rover pulled their spots.

In a letter addressed to the groups, Ford said not only will it resume buying corporate ads featuring Land Rover and Jaguar, it will begin advertising Ford’s other brands in gay-themed publications as well. In the past, Ford had not purchased advertisements for the Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brands in gay-oriented publications.

“I think we’re back in gear with Ford,” Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, said Thursday. “They responded to each of the concerns we raised in a positive way. It’s a great outcome.”

Last week, Ford cited a need to cut marketing costs as its primary reason for pulling Jaguar and Land Rover ads from several gay publications in 2006. The announcement came days after the conservative American Family Association announced it had reached an agreement with Ford and declared victory.

In May, the AFA threatened Ford with a boycott because it objected to the automaker extending partner benefits to gay employees and because Ford supported gay events and advertised in gay publications.

Ford officials denied that pressure from the AFA had any effect on their decision. But gay groups questioned the timing of the ad withdrawals and the decision by the American Family Association to call off the boycott.

On Wednesday, Ford wrote the gay rights groups that the luxury brands “made a business decision about their media plans and it would be inconsistent with the way we manage our business to direct them to do otherwise.”

Instead, Ford pledged to run corporate ads in the publications that would include its full lineup.

“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 to rest,” wrote Joe Laymon, Ford’s group vice president for corporate human resources.

A spokesman for the American Family Association said the group had no comment on Ford’s reversal. The group owns 200 radio stations under the American Family Radio name and claims more than 3 million supporters. Last month, the association canceled its boycott after meeting with Ford officials and dealers. A dealer who attended the meeting said he initiated the summit because he and other Ford dealers in the South feared that a boycott would hurt sales.

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