Embarrassed Ford acts to assuage minorities

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U.K. carmaker devises training effort in altered photo debacle

LONDON--Ford Motor Co. in the U.K. plans to give equal-opportunities training to all its ad agencies after white faces were superimposed on five minority workers in a photograph used for a U.K. Ford Credit Options brochure.

"Measures are already in place to ensure that this never happens again," said a Ford spokesman. "Part of this includes training programs for all people connected with marketing and advertising. This will include agency people."


Ford has admitted altering a multiracial ad photo of a group of U.K. plant workers, which was then used in press and poster advertising in Poland until 1994.

"The modification was made because the U.K. version obviously did not portray the ethnic mix in Poland," Ford said in a statement defending the decision.

The computer-generated race change was detected when Ford mistakenly used the altered photo this year on a Ford Credit brochure distributed by dealers in the U.K. A black Ford worker saw the pamphlet, and became angry when he discovered his image had been turned white for advertising purposes.

Of the 32 workers in the original group photo, four black workers and one Sikh employee had their faces replaced with white ones. Four of the affected workers received an apology and $2,400 from Ford as compensation; a fifth left the company.


"We happened to use the wrong image on a brochure," said a Ford Credit spokesman. "It was an administrative error. . .and we have sorted it out with the union."

Union officials, however, said that Ford hasn't gone far enough because the car company has apologized only for the error that resulted in the use of the altered photo in the U.K. brochure, not for modifying the picture or for using it in Poland.


The Ford spokesman declined to say who was responsible for the U.K. use of the doctored photo, but a union official said Ford has blamed the mistake on Ogilvy & Mather, Ford's U.K. agency.

O&M declined to comment.

The Ford spokesman said the photo was originally doctored for the Spanish market, but Ford's Spanish subsidiary decided to have another photo taken.

Copyright February 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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