Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005 Posted: 2244 GMT (0644 HKT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it would reinstate and expand the scope of its advertising in gay publications after criticism from gay rights groups.
Ford said in a letter it would restore advertising for its luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications and run corporate ads marketing all eight of its vehicle brands in the publications.
"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.
Last week, Ford had said it would no longer advertise its luxury vehicles in several gay publications, citing a need to reduce its marketing costs across the board.
Gay groups asked Ford to restore the advertising -- and suggested a connection between the cutback and pressure from conservative groups. Ford said there was no connection.
In late November, the American Family Association had canceled a boycott of Ford vehicles, which had been announced in May when the organization criticized the nation's No. 2 automaker for making contributions to gay rights groups, offering benefits to same-sex partners and recruiting gay employees.
Several gay rights groups said the move created the perception that Ford had struck a deal with the AFA to reduce its advertising in gay publications. Gay leaders met with Ford on Monday and asked that the automaker reinstitute the advertising and distance itself from the Mississippi-based AFA.
Ford's Laymon said the ads' "content will be appropriate and effective in connecting with the intended audience."
The move was hailed by gay organizations. Neil Giuliano of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation credited the company with listening to its concerns and making "a clear statement of nondiscrimination and inclusion."
"Fairness and equality wins out in corporate America," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
A message seeking comment was left for an AFA spokeswoman.
Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford had said Monday that the automaker values "all people -- regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences."
Ford has been lauded for offering an inclusive work environment for gays and lesbians. Annual studies by the Human Rights Campaign in 2004 and 2005 gave Ford a perfect score on corporate policies and practices toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
"The statement released today is representative of the Ford Motor Co. that we've known and respected for years, not the company that was alleged to exist over the last two weeks," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Ford, General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG introduced same-sex domestic partner benefits in 2000.