After racism, sexism embarrasses Ford

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Labour Editor

The appearance of a woman's bottom in an advertisement in the journal Ford News has caused the motor group fresh embarrassment in the wake of allegations over racism.

The company scrapped all 40,000 copies of its in-house journal after a manager saw an advertisement placed by a Ford dealer which included a provocative picture of a semi-naked woman.

Below the name of the advertiser, Hancock Ford of Horsham, West Sussex, appeared the risque legend: "Is the bottom line as important to you as it is to us?" It recommended that "for expert advice on all figures" - presumably the amount to be paid for a Ford - the reader should ring the dealer.

The row comes within days of a news that the company had published an advertising brochure in which the faces of black workers had been erased in favour of white ones.

A manager "hit the roof" when he saw the Ford News picture and immediately ordered that distribution of the journal should cease and that all those in circulation should be withdrawn. A fresh edition of the paper with a more "appropriate" picture was then produced.

The idea for the advertisement apparently came from the dealer, but was approved not only by its own advertising agency, but by Ford News. A spokesman for Ford said management considered it"entirely inappropriate".

Davey Hall, president of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, which covers thousands of Ford workers, said: "Using unclothed women to sell cars is insulting to the workers who make them and customers who buy them."

A spokeswoman for the Equal Opportunities Commission said there should be action to prevent the exploitation of women by the media. "Women still suffer from a stereotypical portrayal and a trivialisation of their interests," she said.