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Old 01-20-2008, 05:38 PM   #1
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'drive It Like You Stole It'

Ford Canada driven to apologize after ad backfires badly
January 19, 2008
WINNIPEG -- Only hours after telling consumers to "Drive it like you stole it," Ford of Canada's latest ad campaign had to be pulled from newspapers under withering criticism from police, insurance companies and the families of victims killed by stolen vehicles.

The company issued a quick apology yesterday, saying it never intended to offend anyone and that it takes safety issues seriously. The ads, which ran in newspapers from Manitoba to British Columbia, featured a Ford vehicle with a bumper sticker that reads "Drive it like you stole it," just above the Ford tagline "Built for life in Manitoba."

They appeared on the same day Winnipeg's front pages were consumed with a sentencing hearing for a youth convicted of stealing a car and killing an innocent cyclist. Winnipeg has for several years held the ignoble title of "car-theft capital of Canada," although thefts have declined in the past year.

"It's really disappointing to see this, given events in Winnipeg of late," said John Douglas, a spokesman for Manitoba's public insurance company. "All you had to do is look at the front page of today's newspaper to see the tragic consequences of young, uncaring, untrained drivers behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle. Last year, we had people killed, we had people deliberately run over, and Manitobans have told us for a number of years we should be doing everything possible to prevent auto theft. It's a serious issue here."

Local police expressed their disappointment with the ad, noting that it appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press next to the death notices. "We have to believe there was no intention to imply that auto theft and dangerous driving are acceptable activities," Constable Jeff Norman said.

A spokesman for Justice Minister David Chomiak said the ad is unfortunate and regrettable, and added that the minister wouldn't dignify it with a comment.

Marilyn LaRiviere, whose sobbing image was on the front of a local paper yesterday, was dumbfounded by the ad. Her brother, James Duane, was killed by teens driving a stolen car last summer, and the driver, who declared he had been too tired to walk when he stole the car, was sentenced to 21 months in prison Thursday.

"This is ridiculous. I can't even believe they would do something like that," she said. " 'Drive it like you stole it.' In other words, drive like a maniac."

Kelly Van Camp was out for a morning jog in March last year when he was deliberately mown down by a stolen car. He suffered serious injuries, and has since become an advocate for the province's push to install immobilizers in older vehicles. He said as soon as he saw the ad he knew it had missed its mark.

"It's wrong in so many ways I can't even begin to describe them," Mr. Van Camp said. "It seems like an ad that was written by a couple of 16-year-old boys. It doesn't look representative of a professional ad agency and certainly not reflective of a corporation like Ford, or it ought not to be."

Ford spokeswoman Gina Gehlert would not say who designed the ads, how much Ford had paid for them, or what it cost the company to yank them from newspapers across Western Canada.

"We do apologize for these ads. It was never our intention to offend anyone," she said. "Safety is a top priority at Ford of Canada and therefore the ads have been pulled."

Mr. Douglas, the public insurance spokesman, said the ad is surprising because Ford was the first North American manufacturer to install immobilizers in their vehicles, and has always taken auto theft seriously. "I find it really unfortunate that a company that has been a leader has fallen into this trap," he said.

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Old 01-21-2008, 05:52 AM   #2
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I always thought that phrase was funny. But then I am mature enough to understand it. Obviously not a good marketing slogan.
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Old 01-21-2008, 05:56 AM   #3
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The car companies crack me up. They run ads that show folks doing all kinds of intneresting driving and then they do the disclaimer bit on the bottom of the ad,

Something like, professional drivers, do not attempt on public roads and the like.

Who are they kidding?

It is similar to the beer companies urging us to drink responsibly.

Is that possible?
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Old 01-21-2008, 06:07 AM   #4
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It would seem to be a poor choice for an Ad regardless, but I'm surprised because most car companies would frown just for warranty's sake.
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:17 PM   #5
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I've hard that phrase for a long time, usually used WRT motorcycles. (I own a very small motorcycle shop). I've never liked the use of it. I'm surprised that anyone signed off on that one as a marketing campaign.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by roadracer311
I've hard that phrase for a long time, usually used WRT motorcycles. (I own a very small motorcycle shop). I've never liked the use of it. I'm surprised that anyone signed off on that one as a marketing campaign.
marketing amazes me. The process to present proposals, get approvals, and then have agreement to sign a big check on the results we see behooves me. "they approved and spent millions on that?"

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