Ford Motor and Rob Ford: An Unwelcome Association

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/

To paraphrase Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly, there are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a company’s reputation. Right now, that encompasses any connection with Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford. Unfortunately for the American automaker, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F), the two have a common moniker — Ford.

“Ford Nation” shirts began to appear this week, the Toronto Star reports. The shirts are one aspect of Rob Ford merchandise that has recently emerged. According to the paper, the maker of the shirts is unknown, and people who have seen the shirts say some have been signed by the mayor. ”Ford Nation” is term used to identify his supporters, and was popular before the allegations against the Mayor came to light.

Bloomberg also says that the Mayor was seen signing the t-shirts, which make use of Ford’s oval-shaped logo. Speaking to the media outlet, a spokesman for Ford, Jay Cooney, said that, “Ford did not grant permission for use of its logo. We view it as an unauthorized use of our trademark and have asked it to be stopped.”

Ford Canada was quick to react as well, taking to Twitter to announce there was no association between the Rob Ford and Ford Motor Co.  This week, Mayor Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine. On Friday, Toronto city councilors removed some of his decision making powers, causing the Mayor to vow to take legal action to dispute the decision.

Chris Eby, a senior consultant with the Toronto crisis communications firm Navigator, speculated to Global News Toronto that Ford would not even make an announcement regarding the shirts because it would draw a connection. “No one wants to touch this. The Ford Motor [company] won’t want to associate themselves with this in any way,” Eby said.

To secure a loan in 2006 for $23 billion dollars, Ford offered its logo as collateral. The company regained rights to the logo in 2012. Bill Ford, the company’s executive chair, told Bloomberg the decision “to hock the blue oval, that was a very tough thing. I will never forget signing those papers. My heart stopped for a moment. It will start beating again when we get it back.”

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