December 9, 2005
More on Consumer Pressure (and Ford)

As I noted in the comments of Sam's post, below, AmericaBlog has been all over Ford Motors for caving to the demands of the American Family Association. Obviously, this is an area where brand cultures overlap with politics, as a look at the history of the AFA's attempts to influence Ford shows:

Some AMERICAblog readers uncovered an action alert the American Family Association (AFA) used to try to influence Ford to become anti-gay three years ago.

In that alert, the AFA uses the science of one Paul Cameron, the head of the Family Research Institute, an organization labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and whose "research" the SPLC says "echoes Nazi Germany."

...Specifically, the AFA is using Paul Cameron's fake "study" in which he determines that gay men die by the age of 40. I'm serious. (Cameron simply read the obituaries of gay men in gay publications in 1993, then averaged the age of death - really.) The AFA literally cited the results of this study in their action alert - I've been following Cameron's "research" and the religious right's use of him for the past 13 years.

In light of the tactics used by the AFA (as well as the PR implications of being associated with them) it's illuminating to contrast Ford's reaction to that of Kraft, which reacted quite differently to pressure from the AFA. An excerpt from Kraft's press release follows:

In recent days, the company has received many e-mails, the majority of them generated through the America Family Association, which objects to our sponsorship [of the 2006 Gay Games]. We also have received calls and e-mails - - not as many, but equally passionate - - thanking us for supporting this event.

...It can be difficult when we are criticized. It's easy to say you support a concept or a principle when nobody objects. The real test of commitment is how one reacts when there are those who disagree. I hope you share my view that our company has taken the right stand on diversity, including its contribution to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.

This is one case where I'm actually pleased that 'fan' pressure failed to achieve its desired goal.