NEW YORK Ford Motor Co. has pulled a spot from the upcoming Super Bowl telecast, apparently as a result of pressure from a special-interest group that found it offensive to sexual-abuse victims of Roman Catholic priests.
The 30-second spot from WPP Group's Young & Rubicam in Detroit touts Lincoln's new Mark LT luxury pickup. It features a clergyman who finds Mark LT keys on his collection plate. Romantic music swirls as he strolls around the truck in the church parking lot, imagining the vehicle was given to him as a gift. Until a tap on the shoulder wakes him from his reverie. A man with child in tow says, "kids." The minister hands him the keys.
The final scene shows the reverand spelling out the topic of his next sermon ("Lust") on the church's roadside bulletin board.
A Ford representative confirmed that the spot would not run on the Fox telecast of Sunday's game. Executives at Y&R and Fox could not immediately be reached for comment.
Ford is not the only automaker to come under fire of late for its ads. Last year, General Motors' Chevrolet unit pulled a Corvette launch spot because it showed a child driving the car recklessly. Jaguar recently took heat for extolling the seven deadly sins in 2004 ads, via Y&R, Irvine, for its XJ sedan.
Jim Sanfilippo, a consultant with auto marketing firm AMCI in Detroit, believes marketers are over-reacting to special interests. "Marketers are struggling to get used to every sensibility," he said. "We are so politically correct we can't laugh at anything any more. Lincoln wasn't testing the limits, here. It was a little bit of levity. It wasn't unlike what other automakers have done."
Sanfilippo recalls GM's credit arm, GMAC, pulling a radio ad in the 1970's featuring Rubber Band Roberts, a flexible guy who could bend over backwards to do any loan. GMAC pulled the ad because of protests from an advocacy group for handicapped Americans. "These pressures mean advertisers can't be funny, or entertaining, since they will offend someone."
A source said Ford would replace the Mark LT ad with a spot for the Mustang convertible.