NEW YORK Ford Motor Co. confirmed today that the company's Jaguar and Land Rover brands would no longer advertise in publications such as The Advocate, aimed at the gay community.
Ford representative Jim Caine also said the change was not forced on the carmaker by the American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss.
Caine said the AFA launched a campaign urging a boycott against the company earlier this year because some Ford advertising in Europe offended the association. "They also didn't agree with our diversity policies in hiring," he said. The group canceled the boycott last week, per a statement on the AFA Web site.
Ford met with the AFA recently because, according to Caine, dealers had asked the company "to get involved." He said Ford met with AFA and discussed the firm's employee relations and diversity hiring, as well as where it advertises and its advertising content. "We said we wouldn't discuss hiring policies and that we reserve the right to advertise where we please," said Caine. "We agreed to strive to avoid offending anyone in our ads, and . . . not be seen as advocating for a lifestyle, social issue or moral question, directly or indirectly."
Land Rover and Jaguar, which are currently advertising in PlanetOut publications, per a PlanetOut rep, would no longer do so; Volvo will continue to advertise in The Advocate. Caine said the change has nothing to do with Ford's meeting with the AFA.
"Jaguar and Land Rover will be doing less overall advertising, and that publication is one they won't be advertising in," Caine said. Jaguar's sales dropped 50 percent in October, per Ward's Automotive Reports. Land Rover sales increased by 46 percent for the month.
C.J. O'Donnell, Jaguar executive vp of sales and marketing, earlier told Brandweek that Jaguar's retooled media plan would involve redirecting advertising from television to media reaching consumers making from $150,000 to $200,000. "We are pulling away from mass media in general toward more targeted media such as PR and event marketing," he said. "The Internet is going to be a big part of our strategy going forward. Maybe 20 percent of interest we see month to month is coming off of the Internet."