“Spin control”: a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure.
It’s the way you present the information–the context. If there is an obvious exaggeration or hyperbole in a message (generally used for humor or dramatic effect), then there is no harm done. The Ford commercials, which framed their message in a “staged” press release commercial interviewing real Ford owners about their cars, may have crossed the line into spinning the message. To the average viewer, it wasn’t completely obvious that these releases were fake, and since news releases are meant to be taken as legitimate news, the “advertising” signals that normally tip us off to take what we see with a grain of salt, were hidden. The marketing crossed over into a fact-based medium, and therefore, could be perceived as using “spin control”.
However, the White House got upset with a particular line in the commercial. One Ford owner made a reference about Ford standing on their own two feet, while other car companies relied on the government bail-out. Ford most certainly knew who they were appealing to with this tagline: old-fashioned hard workers who liked things the way they were: when success was built by the entrepreneur, rather than from a hand-out from the governor.
In my opinion, the White House did not have a right to ask that the ad be pulled. Freedom of speech should extend to every area, even in advertisement, and that’s one of the great things about our country. Advertisers shouldn’t feel that commenting on the government’s activities is off-limits. What makes them above being constructively criticized? Also, the fact that the White House has time to be concerned with truck advertisements on TV make me concerned for our government. Ford was making a real statement about the government.
The White House simply confirmed the governments’ over-involvement in social issues by requesting they take down the ad. Since when has that been a part of government or a role they were supposed to fill? Media is for the people. The people want to be represented and heard, and if the government doesn’t look peachy all the time, that’s reality. Nobody is perfect and that includes the government, so eliminating all advertisements that don’t spin them at the best angle is violation of freedom of speech.
I think that Ford was very smart in targeting this audience. however, their manner in doing it (disguising the advertisement in a mock press release) was confusing and crossing the line into informative media. In that way alone, I think they were guilty.