Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ford slaps down its biggest fans (ex-fans?)

Utter madness over at Ford (via Todd Defren's PR Squared). They've slapped a ban preventing fans of their Mustang car from producing a calendar of pictures... of the fan club's own cars. Reason? The whole car is the trademark of Ford, apparently (sounds completely insane to me).
I'm not too concerned about the legal niceties of this (though it does seem to me that if you need permission from the manufacturer each time you want to print a picture of a car then car magazines and police forces are going to be keeping press offices and pr departments very very busy indeed...)
The result is that the brand's biggest fans are given a really nasty kicking. Oh dear.
And this at the same time as Ford is reaching out with social media. Someone over there is working out who is really in charge of the brand...
Left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?
Reminds me of the story of when some forward thinking marketing types at the cartoon network started putting some of their content on youtube to take advantage of the new user-as-distributor model...
It worked. Lots of people took notice... including the cartoon network's legal department, who promptly fired off cease and desist letters to youtube...

UPDATE: See the clarification and comment from a Ford PR person which seeks to clarify a key misunderstanding. Seems, as I suspected, the use of pics was fine - the use of trademarked logos for profit, less so. Have to wonder if the amicable solution was reached as a result of the stink the blogosphere kicked up?

Bottom line - seems like Ford has been given too hard a time over this.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?