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CAN BAD PUBLICITY BE GOOD PUBLICITY?

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Sep 11, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Lincoln's new Mark LT

CAN BAD PUBLICITY BE GOOD PUBLICITY? Two commercials received a ton of publicity earlier this year - and neither was seen on television. One was the commercial for Lincoln's new 2006 Mark LT pickup truck, which was schedule to air during Super Bowl XXXIX. The 30-second commercial features a clergyman who discovers an unusual offering in the collection plate: The keys to a new Lincoln Mark LT. The cleric takes the keys to the Mark LT and finds it seductive. But then the owner arrives to say his little daughter put the keys on the plate by mistake. The clergyman then notes on the church marquee that next week's sermon will be on "lust." Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests sent a letter to Ford Motor Co., urging the firm to withdraw the ad, contending it trivializes and exploits the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We are appalled at how insensitive this ad is," Barbara Blaine, SNAP president said. "It just rubs salt into an already very deep and still hurting wound for many of us." Several other groups - both religious and secular - joined SNAP in criticizing the commercial, which was supposed to be the Lincoln division's first foray into the Super Bowl spotlight in more than a decade, said the Tribune. Initially, Ford insisted it had no intention of yanking the ad, according to the Tribune. Ultimately, however, Lincoln issued the following statement: "Lincoln has decided not to run the Lincoln Mark LT ad on the Super Bowl... Of course we had no intention of offending anyone - and we are frankly surprised there is a negative reaction. We are most interested in making sure that as we launch our new Lincoln Mark LT pickup truck that attention is focused on the vehicle and not on any controversy." Small But Tough Although Lincoln was forced to pull its ad, all the television news shows covered the controversy - virtually insuring the new Mark LT's status as a water cooler conversation piece. In terms of controversy, however, the Lincoln ad pales in comparison to the spoof Volkswagen ad that circulated the Internet. The ad - unauthorized by Volkswagen and its advertising agencies - shows a suicide bomber detonating his explosives in a VW Polo parked outside a busy cafe, only to have the car completely absorb the blast. The 20-second commercial ends with the Volkswagen logo and the Polo's actual advertising motto, "Small but Tough." According to CNN, Volkswagen responded by lodging a criminal complaint over the ad, which it called "an attack on Volkswagen's good name." Reuters reports that VW was able to get the creators of the commercial to apologize and promised not to repeat it. Volkswagen said in a statement it had received sworn statements from the two creators - Dan Brooks and Lee Ford - acknowledging that they made the ad but had not intended for it to be distributed. "The creators regret the distribution of the film, will not publicize it further and apologize unreservedly for the damage caused to Volkswagen," it said, adding that the company would now drop legal action against the pair. Within a few short days, the spoof Volkswagen ad has become one of the most widely circulated on the Internet. Notwithstanding its offensiveness, the ad served to reinforce Volkswagen's image as a maker of solidly constructed vehicles. In turn, it has elevated Dan Brooks and Lee Ford out of obscurity and into the public light as effective ad makers. Sometimes bad publicity can still be good publicity. - Roy Nakano

This piece comes courtesy of our LA Car Blog.

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