USA: Ford pulls expensive Superbowl ad after complaints
Ford on Wednesday reportedly pulled a planned Super Bowl advertisement that depicts a clergyman tempted by a new pickup truck after some victims of clergy sex abuse complained it made light of their trauma.
The company wants to keep the focus on its new truck model rather than any controversy, Sara Tatchio, spokeswoman for Ford's Lincoln division, told the Associated Press (AP).
The ad reportedly shows a set of car keys placed on a collection plate - the clergyman finds a new Lincoln Mark LT truck in the parking lot, and lovingly caresses the exterior.
The car's owner then enters the picture, with his little girl poking her head from behind him - the implication being she had dropped the keys in the plate. The clergyman hands over the keys, then is depicted adding the letters L-T to a message board advertising an upcoming sermon, to spell lust, AP added.
According to the report, the Chicago-based Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests believed the little girl's presence in the ad with the clergyman and word "lust" had sexual overtones and that Lincoln was playing off the news of religious sex scandals to sell cars.
The survivors' group reportedly urged Ford to pull the ad and, within hours of their complaint, the company obliged.
"We're grateful for their prompt response," Barbara Blaine, SNAP's president, told the Associated Press, adding: "It shows their compassion and I think will spare lots of people a great deal of pain."
Tatchio told the news agency that Lincoln had conducted consumer testing of the ad and had no trouble, and also made certain the clergyman depicted could not be confused for a Catholic priest.
Before Ford made the decision not to run the ad, Tatchio suggested that because of their experiences, the critics were seeing things in the ad that weren't there, AP noted.
"While we think it was a very unfortunate misunderstanding and were frankly surprised by the reaction of this one group, in the end" Ford decided it was more important to keep the focus on the truck, she said, according to the Associated Press.
Lincoln reportedly hasn't decided whether the ad will run elsewhere. AP said it wasn't cheap to produce: the company hired "The Cell" director Tarsem Singh to make the ad and singer Cassandra Wilson and well-known producer Don Was recorded a version of the Billie Holiday song "Guilty" specifically for the background music.
AP said it was also unclear whether Ford would use the space it reserved on the Super Bowl telecast for another ad, or seek a refund - Fox [television network] has been charging $US2.4 million for 30-second ads on Sunday's Super Bowl telecast.
The Associated Press noted that the ad was to launch an entire advertising campaign for the Mark LT, which will be available in Lincoln showrooms later this month.