December 7, 2005
Ford Ads in Gay Publications Pulled

There is sometimes a dark side to brand communities.

We have often advocated the importance of making products appeal to more than one niche market simultaneously or making appeals to multiple demographics or audiences through various channels at the same time.

However, an article by Jeremy W. Peters in Tuesday's New York Times reminds us why this multiple marketing strategy can sometimes back companies into a corner.

Ford Motors has positioned itself as, among other things, an American family brand.

It is precisely an extreme section of this fan base that is reacting against the company's ads in gay publications specifically targeted that audience.

Conservative religious group American Family Association has successfully pressured Ford to pull ads for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in magazines after the group called for a boycott against Ford for "supporting the homosexual agenda."

With a market of many audiences, the concern with keeping them all happy has to be a constant one for marketing. And, marketing to conservative Christians can be a particular double-edged sword, as they are a group with an incredible word-of-mouth network, which can both spread good will and just as quickly call for a boycott.

Any thoughts?


On December 7, 2005 at 7:47 PM, Alec Austin said:

AmericaBlog is all over this particular story from the perspective of the gay community, which is up in arms over Ford caving to the religious right.

While Ford may have thought they were improving their customer relations by appeasing the AFA, they've exchanged one boycott for another. Their move has also lead to embarassing revelations--such as the fact that Ford employees are producing astroturf comments on progressive blogs and that the executives who brokered Ford's deal with the AFA are also employees of the Bush administration.

On December 7, 2005 at 8:03 PM, Sam Ford said:

Today's Wall Street Journal has a great article on the American Family Association as well, discussing not only their movement against Ford but also their work against Target because Target has not used the word "Christmas" in its promotions. The article, by Alan Murray, appeared on page A2.