Last week an Alabama Ford dealership ran a ‘Merica-friendly promotion, offering a free American flag, Bible, and shotgun with every vehicle purchase, which grew so popular that naturally Ford HQ had to shut that down.
Chatom Ford in Chatom, Ala., released a statement saying, “We were running a promotion celebrating this country’s independence. Ford Motor Company has asked us to stop running the advertisement. They manufacture the products we are franchised to sell, so we are complying with their request.” The small-town dealer added that they “appreciate everyone’s support,” and will honor the promotion up to the point when Ford made them stop it.
General Sales Manager Koby Palmer told USA Today that his dealership wasn’t just “handing out shotguns in Alabama.” Customers would get their Bible and flag on the spot, but received a certificate good for one shotgun at a couple of participating licensed firearms dealers — and all the usual background checks, age restrictions, etc., still applied.
The promotion was working, too. In the first three days, Palmer says they sold five cars, which is a nice turnover for a rural town of about 1,200 people with a median income under $32,000.
But it appears Chatom Ford’s promotion was a victim of its own success. Palmer told FOX10 News that he “had no idea it was going to spread outside our little bubble of South Alabama,” but the Facebook post quickly went from 14,000 views on Tuesday night to more than a quarter of a million views just a couple days later. If it seems like one of Facebook’s “dangerous” content suppressers was asleep at the wheel last week, the commotion sure woke up somebody at Ford headquarters in Dearborn.
The dealer said they’d stopped the promo at the “request” of Ford, but it’s a safe bet that there was some muscle behind the “request.” Under the new, presumably Ford-approved promotion, Chatom says, “We’re going to give away a Bible, an American Flag and a gift certificate to use wherever you want for whatever you want.”
But that’s not nearly as fun, is it? Any dealer can put a little cash on the hood, as they say, to help move the metal, but what Chatom did took a little more imagination. And with Independence Day just hours away, the whole “Flag, Bible, Shotgun with your Ford Pickup” thing shouted ‘MERICA! in the best way possible. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone in the town of Chatom was offended, if moving five cars in three days is any indication. There were no reports of protestors, picketers, or other assorted buttinskies… except for the jittery folks in Dearborn.
Ford wasn’t responding to inquiries at press time, and I get the feeling they’d just like the whole thing to go away.
It’s easy to understand, if not condone, Ford getting all nervous about a local dealer giving away firearms. Although they weren’t exactly just giving them away, or even making it any easier to get a shotgun than the law allows. But just because the usual busybodies hadn’t yet taken notice and made an international fuss about those awful rednecks giving shotguns to children under the car show loophole (bear with me: they make stuff up, and I’m just playing along), doesn’t mean it wasn’t about to happen. And Dearborn probably doesn’t want any unnecessary headaches.
Still, it wouldn’t have killed them just to say something like, “Ford Motor Company does not approve or condone of any dealer promotions, and we trust our local franchisees to make decisions in best accordance with their customers’ needs.” Ford could have washed its hands of the matter, without annoying the very people who tend to like flags, Bibles, shotguns, and cars and trucks “built Ford-tough.”
“Ford-Wuss” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but maybe it’s a better fit for an international corporation trying desperately not to offend anyone.