Ford Eschews Crony Capitalism in Latest Ad

by on January 30th, 2015
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COMMENTARY | The Ford Motor Company has managed to slip in a dig at its domestic rivals and the Obama administration in the latest in a series of commercials featuring real Ford drivers who answer questions about why they choose Ford.

Chris, the owner of a new Ford pickup, sat before the cameras and actors portraying reporters and, according to U.S. News and World Report, had some interesting reasons for choosing a Ford vehicle:

“I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work. Ford is that company for me.”

While the Obama administration gave billions of dollars to Chrysler and GM, much of which the American taxpayer will never see again, Ford refused the money and, incidentally, the government strings that came with it. Ford has emerged from the financial crisis that wracked the American automobile industry quite nicely.

The commercial’s dialogue is unscripted. Chris said what he really believed. But it speaks volumes that Ford decided to run his full remarks, seeing it is as much a dig against the Obama administration’s policy of crony capitalism as it is against its rivals’ participation in the same.

Contrary to popular belief, big companies are quite capable of accommodating big, intrusive government. Companies hire battalions of lobbyists to make sure they benefit from the byzantine maze of taxes and regulations that governments like to impose. This arrangement also helps prevent the rise of upstart rivals, except for foreign companies like Toyota and BMW, which have built non-union factories in the south and have done quite well in the domestic American market.

Ford seems to have stumbled upon the coming zeitgeist that features a growing opposition to backroom deals between big corporations and big government. “See, we’re not crony capitalists,” Ford wants people to think. That is now a selling point for products, as patriotic in its own way as “Made in the USA.”

Whether Ford actually means it or not, the commercial may be part of a trend in which American companies try to portray themselves as being clean of the taint of crony capitalism. They will try to be more of what Americans think of a company as being: selling a product or service that people want to buy, competing in the marketplace, eschewing special deals from government. Even as public relations, it could be a health development.

Source: Ford TV Ad Slams Obama Auto Bailouts, Paul Bedard, US News and World Report, Sept. 16, 2011

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