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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ford Canada Ad Misfire

This news item caught my eye in my daily auto news scan: Ford Apologizes For Ad Campaign.
What could it be? Another dead cat? Too gay? Not gay enough?

The ad in question used the phrase "Drive it like you stole it", displayed on a bumper sticker stuck to an Escape. You would think the problem was that it encourages aggressive driving (of an SUV no less, shocking!) but apparently what got the Canadians hung up was also its glorification of car theft. From CBC Canada:
“You look at that and you think, ‘what were they thinking?’” said John Douglas, Manitoba Public Insurance Inc. vice president of public relations and corporate affairs. “Auto theft is a high-profile public issue in Winnipeg and in every major city across Canada. We’ve all had issues with vehicle thieves driving recklessly and endangering people.”

Apparently, our manly lumberjack northern neighbors are rather sensitive. The Winnipeg Free Press online poll shows that the majority of online responders are in fact offended:
Poll Results
Did you find Ford's 'Drive it like you stole it' ad offensive?
Yes 56%
No 44%
Total Votes: 1666
I think the Canadians are being a bit too sensitive on this one. But someone at Ford marketing should be smacked with a wild salmon, because the whole premise is stupid. You don't drive an Escape "like you stole it", you put on flannel and hiking boots and you go run over some endangered fauna on the way to your lumberjack camp and hunting lodge. The car you might aspire to drive fast is the Mustang GT.


Omar said...

I'm not sure if the ad is appropriate or not. I also wonder if Ford's agency didn't do it on purpose.

However, the problem here was that the ad ran on the same day as (or shortly after) someone was killed by an auto thief. So, "drive it like you stole it" meant not to worry about pedestrians to the locals.

Of course, you always get the special interest groups looking for "teachable moments" to get their message across.

John B said...

Winnipeg has an ongoing problem with auto theft which I believe is associated with gang activity and young offenders as they are known. I believe there have also been several collisions caused by juvenile car thieves resulting in death or serious injury. Various news articles suggest thus is a very serious topic in Winnipeg which I believe leads the country in car thefts.

While I don't like being politically correct, this ad campaign isn't too bright.

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Anonymous said...

I doubt they would do something like this on purpose. It just doesn'y make sense. Ford has always been very careful with there advtz.
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