Just two weeks ago, we told you about a Ford television commercial critical of GM and Chrysler for taking bailout money. The unscripted ad, filmed in a mock “press conference” format, featured an F-150 owner named Chris who supported Ford for “standing on their own; win, lose or draw.”
Now the ad has been pulled from the airwaves, and not because of public sentiment. Instead, some within the White House have reminded Ford that even Alan Mulally, Ford’s beloved CEO, supported the idea of government loans in the darkest days of 2008 and 2009. Ford may not have accepted loans (aside from a Fed-backed line of credit) but the automaker was behind the government issuing them.
The Detroit News says that Ford pulled the ad in response to White House criticism, and perhaps because of ire from cross-town rival General Motors. The success of the automaker bailout will figure heavily in Obama’s reelection campaign, so anything that portrays the bailout in a negative light will be frowned upon, heavily, by administration staffers.
An unnamed source familiar with the situation admits that the ad is “highly charged,” but insists it was never an attack on policy. The source also denies that Ford was under pressure to take down the ad, but there’s no denying that it raises questions those in power would rather not address, especially heading into a reelection year.
As for Ford, it may soon find itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Both GM and Chrysler currently have better credit ratings than Ford, thanks to government-provided assistance. GM and Chrysler also have a clause prohibiting UAW hourly workers from striking prior to 2015, which was part of the package handed out by the Feds. Ford doesn’t have such protection, and it’s about to begin difficult contract negotiations with the UAW.
Whether the ad runs or not, Ford will continue to get business from buyers opposed to the bailout. That won’t help its negotiations with the UAW, but it will certainly help the automaker’s bottom line.