Ford Pulls Commercial Criticizing GM, Chrysler Bailouts

Ford Motor Company’s decision to pull a television ad that was critical of the U.S. government’s bailout of Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Company has prompted some congressional members to question whether the automaker was pressured by the Obama administration or the United Autoworkers Union.

On Thursday, Congressman and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa (R-CA), sent a letter to Ford CEO Alan Mulally asking him to explain why the commercial was no longer being aired.

The commercial captures the familiar look and feel of a post-game interview and features a “real Ford owner” identified only as “Chris” fielding questions about his decision to purchase a Ford product.

At one point a “reporter” from the audience asks, “Chris, was buying American important to you?” In response, the Ford owner says, “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.”

The commercial began airing earlier this month on U.S. broadcast networks and on the automaker’s YouTube channel. Although it was briefly taken down from the YouTube channel, it has since been restored.

The commercial was part of Ford’s “Drive One” campaign and marked the first time Ford had made mention of the Chrysler and GM bailouts in a national advertisement.

Shortly after Chrysler and GM accepted billions of dollars in federal bailouts, the two companies scored near the bottom of the Harris Interactive Corporate Reputation survey, while Ford made the largest single-year improvement in nearly a decade.

Although Ford did not accept the Obama administration’s offer of a federal bailout package, the automaker did receive $5.9 billion in loan subsidies from the Energy Department, which lowered its cost of borrowing.

In his letter to Mulally, Issa said, “Given the close relationship between American automobile manufacturers, workers unions and the U.S. government in the wake of a series of loans, grants and stimulus programs, accusations of White House interference in private business matters to support its own political and policy agendas are very serious issues and warrant a full airing of facts.”

A Whitehouse spokesman denied that the administration had pressured the automaker to pull the commercial.

Ford Motor Company spokeswoman Meghan Keck said, “There was no pressure from the White House or the administration regarding our ad,” but she said the company will “cooperate fully” with Congressman Issa.

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