Ford pulls Super Bowl car ad

NEW YORK (AP) — Ford Motor Co. (F) on Wednesday abruptly yanked a planned Super Bowl advertisement that depicted a clergyman tempted by a new pickup truck after some clergy sex abuse victims complained the ad made light of their trauma.

The company wants to keep the focus on its new truck model rather than controversy, said Sara Tatchio, spokeswoman for Ford’s Lincoln division.

The ad shows a set of car keys placed on a collection plate; the clergyman then finds a new Lincoln Mark LT truck in the parking lot. When the car’s owner shows up, his little girl smiling and poking her head from behind, the implication is that the child had dropped the keys in the plate.

The clergyman hands over the keys, and is then shown adding the letters L-T to a message board advertising an upcoming sermon — on lust.

The Chicago-based Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests believed the little girl’s presence in the ad with the clergyman and the word “lust” had sexual overtones, and that Lincoln was playing off news of religious sex scandals to sell cars. The survivors’ group urged Ford to pull the ad and, within hours of their complaint, the company obliged.

“It shows their compassion and I think will spare lots of people a great deal of pain,” said Barbara Blaine, SNAP’s president.

Lincoln hasn’t decided whether the ad will run elsewhere. It wasn’t cheap to produce: The company hired “The Cell” director Tarsem Singh to make the ad, and singer Cassandra Wilson and well-known producer Don Was recorded a version of the Billie Holiday song “Guilty” for the background music.

It’s also unclear whether or not Ford will use the space it reserved on the Super Bowl telecast for another ad, or seek a refund. Fox has been charging $2.4 million for 30-second ads on Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast.

The ad was to launch an entire advertising campaign for the Mark LT, which will be in showrooms later this month.