Ford to Run Ads in Gay Publications

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Advertisements featuring Ford Motor Co.'s (F) eight vehicle brands will run in gay publications, the automaker said Wednesday, acting after gay rights groups complained when Jaguar and Land Rover pulled their spots.

Ford is not ordering those luxury brands to resume their specific ads. Rather, the company's ads in the publications will promote all of its lines, which also include Ford, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, Volvo and Aston Martin.

Last week, Ford cited a need to reduce its marketing costs in explaining why it no longer would advertise Jaguar and Land Rover in several gay publications.

On Wednesday, Ford wrote the gay rights groups that the luxury brands "made a business decision about their media plans and it would be inconsistent with the way we manage our business to direct them to do otherwise."

Ford pledged to run corporate ads in the publications that will include the entire Ford lineup.

"It is my hope that this will remove any ambiguity about Ford's desire to advertise to all important audiences and put this particular issue to rest," wrote Joe Laymon, Ford's group vice president for corporate human resources.

The gay groups had suggested a connection between the withdrawn Jaguar and Land Rover ads and pressure from conservative groups. Ford denied a connection.

In May the American Family Association announced a boycott of Ford vehicles and criticized Ford for making contributions to gay rights groups, offering benefits to same-sex partners and recruiting gay employees. The organization called off the boycott late last month.

Several gay rights groups said the move created the perception that Ford had struck a deal with the AFA to reduce its advertising in gay publications. Gay leaders met with Ford on Monday and asked that the automaker reinstitute the advertising and distance itself from the Mississippi-based AFA.

Ford's Laymon said the ads' "content will be appropriate and effective in connecting with the intended audience."

The move was hailed by gay organizations. Neil Giuliano of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation credited the company with listening to its concerns and making "a clear statement of nondiscrimination and inclusion."

"Fairness and equality wins out in corporate America," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

A message left Wednesday with the family association was not immediately returned.

Ford's chairman and chief executive, Bill Ford, said Monday that the automaker values "all people — regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences."

Ford has been lauded for offering an inclusive work environment for gays and lesbians. Annual studies by the Human Rights Campaign in 2004 and 2005 gave Ford a perfect score on corporate policies and practices toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

"The statement released today is representative of the Ford Motor Co. that we've known and respected for years, not the company that was alleged to exist over the last two weeks," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Ford, General Motors Corp. (GM) and DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX) introduced same-sex domestic partner benefits in 2000.