An Alabama Ford dealer ran into corporate head winds with its Fourth of July promotion. So it stopped talking about the free shotgun included in the package deal.
The original promotion that Chatom Ford in Chatom, Ala., offered customers was a free King James Bible, an American flag and a 12-gauge shotgun with the purchase of a vehicle.
The dealership originally partnered with a local company, Andrews Ace Hardware and Seed Store, and the Athletic Locker in Waynesboro, Miss., for the giveaway. Auto buyers would be handed a gift certificate redeemable at either store to get their firearm, after going through any required background checks; they would receive the Bible and the flag at the dealership.
“Obviously, we’re not just running around willy-nilly and giving everybody a shotgun,” said Koby Palmer, the dealership’s sales manager.
The video promoting the giveaway, which was posted June 19 and had been expected to run through July 31, has been deleted. It showed Palmer explaining the deal, then pumping a shotgun.
But on Wednesday afternoon, the dealership, which is about an hour’s drive from Mobile, posted the following statement on its Facebook page, saying Ford Motor Company had asked them to stop advertising it.
“We were running a promotion celebrating this country’s independence,” the post reads. “[Ford Motor Company] manufacture(s) the products we are franchised to sell, so we are complying with their request. We appreciate everyone’s support. All the phone calls and messages were so greatly appreciated. We will fulfill all commitments we made to our customers.”
“Ford Motor Company wasn’t aware or involved in this promotion,” said Ford Motor Company spokesman Mark Truby, who said the dealership had promised to “stop talking about it as God, guns and glory.”
That’s when a new video went up, re-branding the deal as just “God and glory.” Instead of a shotgun, the deal now offers a $200 certificate to spend on whatever, wherever, said general manager Colin Ward.
Palmer said dealership managers came up with the original promotion while brainstorming ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in a way that reflected the community’s values.
“They love their faith, they love their country, and they love to hunt,” he said.
Prior to the corporate request to stop advertising it, the local dealership received overwhelmingly positive feedback, Palmer said. The dealership has averaged about one sale a day after the promotion was announced.
One of those customers is Josh Lankford of Gulf Shores. He’d already contacted Palmer about what he was looking for when the promotion came up. Lankford said he saw the gifts with purchase as a nice bonus to his new pickup.
“It circles back to the great service and sales team that they have,” Lankford said. “It’s great that they try to reflect the community’s values.”
Palmer wanted to make it clear that the dealership wasn’t trying to push a political agenda.
“This is something just to promote our little community and things they hold dear to their heart,” Palmer said. “We love everybody regardless of race, creed and religion, and we want everybody to come in and let us love on them a little bit.”
The timing of the corporate request followed a deadly shooting at a Northern California Ford dealership. Authorities said the gunman killed two employees and then himself, the Associated Press reported.