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Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Kieffe & Sons Ford Apologizes for Offending Nonbelievers

The Kieffe & Sons Ford Dealership has issued a public apology at their website.
"For 15 years, Kieffe and Sons Ford has run ad campaigns that focus on current events. We have chosen to do this rather than presenting typical car sales ads. We do this through an agency that develops the material and sends us a package of commercials to review. From this, we select commercials that we distribute to area radio stations. Frequently we emphasize humor and patriotic themes, as we are located adjacent to two military bases. Public response over these 15 years has been hugely positive, often eliciting calls and visits from appreciative individuals. Regrettably, the commercial that has prompted the current objection to religious sentiment ("Under God", "In We Trust") was not closely reviewed by our dealership before it went live. The commercial has been replaced. We apologize to all who were offended. It is Kieffe and Sons' intention to support America and the freedoms that make this country great."

Rick Kieffe, President
Perhaps they will review the ads that they pay for in the future. They ended up with a lot of egg on their faces this time. I emailed them weeks ago about how the ad was offensive to nonbelievers, especially atheists. The portion of the ad that offended me was the "shut up and sit down" portion. The arrogance and condescension I can put up with, but not being told to give up my right to free speech.

If I were them, I definitely would screen future ads. There is a person calling himself J W Horne who claims to have made the ad. He seems to be cluelessly making himself look like an ass, both here and on his blog.

The Bakersfield Californian has the story as well.
A radio ad that tells non-Christians to “sit down and shut up” has prompted a flood of phone calls to the Kern County car dealer who paid for the ads and now regrets airing them.
...

Rick Kieffe, owner of Kieffe and Sons Ford in Mojave and Rosamond, insisted Wednesday that he does not remember approving the ad, which he said was written by his longtime advertising writer and producer in Oklahoma.

“It’s just something that went by us,” said Kieffe, who does not attend church but considers himself “a Christian spirit.” “We’re obviously sorry that it offends a given segment who identifies themselves as atheist.”

Airing on local AM and FM radio in eastern Kern County and the Antelope Valley, the ad has gained a lot of attention on the Internet, where blog posts go on and on about its pro-Christian, anti-atheist message.

Kieffe said he has received “an incredible amount” of calls from people as far away as Australia and England, most but not all of them from “very articulate, nice people.”

Way to go everyone.

Kieffe and Sons has contracted the same Oklahoma ad producer for 12 to 15 years, Kieffe said. Most of the ads are humorous but a minority are patriotic, “flag-waving” messages that don’t necessarily push car sales, he said.

The dealership also advertises on television and in print, although the ad in question was limited to radio.

I wouldn't call an ad that told 14% of the population to "sit down and shut up" very patriotic. The ad is also discussed over at Way of the Woo.

18 comments:

pt said...

Hey, great post! I've been browsing the blogs to gather spread the idea that maybe we can write to the Ford parent company to say that we don't think we'll be buying Fords at all any more?

I think Kieffe & Sons publicity stunt may actually work, because the act of alienating this small percentage of a possible audience could actually strengthen their standing and brand amongst what they see as their core base (i.e. die-hard Christians who would be proud of an anti-atheistic company).

Within their environment (the local area that they get their customers from) I don't think "atheist disapproval" will be strong enough take make them feel the pinch. But, if we raise the issue out of their environment, and make the Ford Motor Company as a whole feel the pinch, (or even fear a pinch!) then maybe they in turn could reprimand this small dealer (e.g. speak out against them, take away their licence etc.)

Notice that the Ford Motor Company promotes "diversity" as one of it's most cherished values: http://www.ford.com/our-values/diversity

I've registered my complaint at https://secure.ford.com/footer/contact-ford/contact-us-email?contactMainTopic=PublicAffairs to let their public affairs department that they've lost my lifetime custom, and I'd suggest that you and all others who are outraged (atheists and religious moderatesa alike!) to do the same!

I hope you think it's a good idea!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Way to keep this thing going. As an atheist I am sick to death of Jeebus people telling me to be quiet. I will not be quiet, and I will not get back into their stone age religions. Thanks for leading the fight against these people.

Anonymous said...

pt, I did that the other day. Here is my reply from Ford coustomer service:

"Thank you for contacting the Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center regarding the advertisement of Kieffe and Sons Ford.

Ford Motor Company is concerned with the satisfaction of all Ford and Lincoln-Mercury owners and potential customers. We regret the circumstances that have prompted you to contact us.

Ford and Lincoln-Mercury Dealerships are independently owned and operated. Ford Motor Company is unable to intervene directly in individual Dealer funded advertising campaigns. Individual Dealer Advertising campaigns are unique to that Dealership and are developed without Ford Motor Company oversight or funding.

This information will be shared with the appropriate personnel within Dealer Relations and Field Operations. If you have not already done so, we would recommend you provide feedback to the Management Team at the dealership.

Currently, there are a variety of special incentives and offers available on Ford Motor Company products. We encourage you to visit us at: www.fordvehicles.com (...marketing info omitted...)"


So they claim no control over the dealer's ads, but at least they are responding.

The skepTick said...

"Frequently we emphasize humor and patriotic themes." So, what theme were they emphasizing with the "sit down and shut up" ad? Humor? Patriotism? Or maybe they decided the time was ripe to pull the old "Buy a Car from an Asshole" theme out of their bag of tricks.

Anyway, congrats on bringing this to the full light of day. It would be nice if they finally respond to your original email. Or give you a free car!

Erica said...

Anybody else notice yet they accidentally left God out of "In We Trust"?

It's still a decent apology, but oh what fun irony can be...

Karen Peralta said...

I think it's a cop out for Rick Kieffe to just transfer ALL the blame to the ad agency. Sure, they made the ad but I have a hard time believing it when on air with none at the company knowing about it. Way to try and cover your ass, Mr Kieffe.

And JW Horne is just a delusional fool.

Anonymous said...

Sure, they made the ad

actually, it was just one guy, apparently, and he's still quite proud of it.

he even constructed a blog page to defend it and tell atheists to fuck off.

seriously.

the original blog page was pulled after the ford dealership "disavowed knowledge" (and probably told him it was inappropriate to use their name on the blog page), but he started a new one:

http://jwhorne2.blogspot.com/2008/05/thats-tough.html

Karen Peralta said...

I know, anon. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of reading the ignorance he's spewed out.
But only he made the ad? I would've thought that it'd take a business to do all the editing and sound for that.

woozy said...

Karen said:

"I think it's a cop out for Rick Kieffe to just transfer ALL the blame to the ad agency. Sure, they made the ad but I have a hard time believing it when on air with none at the company knowing about it. Way to try and cover your ass, Mr Kieffe."

I agree. But I can see how they might give a cursory listen to the ad, hear it as a home-spun conservative "america love it or leave it" homily and not think to realize it just insulted an entire segment of the population on their religious (non)beliefs.

On the other hand, I can also see them not really getting our point, not giving a damn that they insulted a bunch of hardcore atheist extremists, but noticing that the shit hit the fan and it's time to bail.

After all, they mentioned they were going to pull another about the 10 commandments but have thought better of it:

If the ad were something about posting the 10 commandments in courts, it would be a dumb ad with assinine politics, bad argument in support of an offensive proposition, but it wouldn't actually be bigoted against a religious group.

Makes me feel they don't really get it but want to put the fire out *now*. I'm happy with that. We won. This time.

Cujo359 said...

I, too, find it hard to believe that the dealership was unaware of the content of this ad. Nevertheless, they seem to have had a "come to Jesus" moment on this issue, so good for them.

Thanks for taking this up, Anna Lemma and Karen P. It's possible this could have become a trend if you hadn't spoken up. Even if this hasn't changed any minds, at least you've spared most of us a stupid argument.

Karen Peralta said...

On the other hand, I can also see them not really getting our point, not giving a damn that they insulted a bunch of hardcore atheist extremists, but noticing that the shit hit the fan and it's time to bail.

Exactly. They don't care at all that they offended us. They just care that they got caught and it went national. Rick threw out that apology not because he was truly sorry but because he wanted to get the atheists off his ass and leave him alone.


Makes me feel they don't really get it but want to put the fire out *now*. I'm happy with that. We won. This time.

I'm happy with it as well. I don't know if it's a complete victory but it is a victory, nonetheless. I really NEVER thought the story would get this big or even outside of California. I'm just amazed at the overwhelming response from across the nation and apparently from around the world. I feel so... accomplished. :D


Thanks for taking this up, Anna Lemma and Karen P. It's possible this could have become a trend if you hadn't spoken up. Even if this hasn't changed any minds, at least you've spared most of us a stupid argument.

You're welcome! I think Anna should get all the credit though. All I did was get the audio (and didn't even do a very good job of that and missed the first sentence). But yes, many thanks to Anna for taking this story on and making it known.

benjdm said...

The apology was completely unsincere:

KGET TV Story
"...Rick Kieffe said, "I do not regret it, it's simply how we feel. We feel that one child shouldn't keep the other 29 children in class from saying the pledge of allegiance. We feel it should say, In God We Trust should be on the money, and there's these things where the majority feels one way but a smaller group tells them to sit down and shut up and that's where the unfortunate language came into this ad. The sit down and shut up part kind of got by me."

What's your opinion on the ad? Tell us what you think by voting on our home page at kget.com."

Anna Lemma said...

Thanks everyone for calling in and emailing them. I didn't expect this type of response. Part of me is disappointed that they didn't put up much more of a fight. It's been a lot of fun ridiculing them in my blog.

I don't understand how they think that being told not to impose their religion on others is being told to sit down and shut up. They are totally free to pray anytime they want. Also they get mad when you don't join in their prayers. I don't get it. I'm not Christian, why should I pretend to pray? What good would it do?

bitbutter said...

Good news that the dealership apologised. But it should still be made clear to Ford that their response here was inadequate.

You can contact them using this form https://secure.ford.com/footer/contact-ford/contact-us-email?contactMainTopic=PublicAffairs

Here's the message I posted to ford:

Reading a Ford representative's reply to Anna Lemma ( http://undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com/2008/04/obnoxious-ford-ad-part-3r.html ) I was very surprised and disappointed to learn that it seems Ford will not take any kind of action in response to one of its dealerships broadcasting an unashamedly hate-mongering, bigoted radio advert targeting atheists, who are told to 'sit down and shut up'.

I'm shocked and disappointed that Ford did not respond with an immediate denunciation of this disgusting stunt and a promise that steps will be taken to prevent this kid of thing ever happening again.

If a Ford dealership had targeted another minority, such as Jews or blacks in a similar advert, and told them that they are not welcome as customers in their store, would Ford's response be similarly apathetic?

Yours, an atheist who has resolved never to buy from Ford.

faboofour said...

Looks like Kieffe and Sons has retracted their apology:

"Rick Kieffe said, "I do not regret it, it's simply how we feel.""

http://www.kget.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=D341295C-BABE-4244-93C7-D0E009BD014F&gsa=true

nan said...

I got this from Ford:

Dear John,

Thank you for contacting the Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center regarding the Kieffe and Sons Ford's advertisement.

Ford Motor Company is concerned with the satisfaction of all Ford and Lincoln-Mercury owners and potential customers. We regret the circumstances that have prompted you to contact us.

This specific issue has been addressed by Ford Motor Company personnel with appropriate representatives at Kieffe and Sons Ford in Mojave, California. Our investigation has determined that the advertising was placed in error. Corrective actions have been taken to prevent this from happening again.

Thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention.

If you have any other inquiries, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to address them for you.

I'm pretty sure I was far from the only one to send them a mail about this and I'm pretty sure the dealership got to hear it :P Bad PR for Ford.

Anna Lemma said...

I think that this is a form letter they are sending out, as others are getting the exact same emailback.

Anna Lemma said...

Looks like Kieffe and Sons has retracted their apology:

"Rick Kieffe said, "I do not regret it, it's simply how we feel.""


I think that he is a typical car salesman. He will tell you whatever he thinks you want to hear in order to make a sale. Why did he issue the apology if he still feels this way? Why not stand up for what he believes,even if it is unpopular. It's his right, just as it's my right to criticize him for what he says.