PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: 'Heroic' effort has Ford back on track

WASHINGTON: The Ford Motor Company's good name has been dragged through the mud in recent months because of the Bridgestone/Firestone controversy.

WASHINGTON: The Ford Motor Company's good name has been dragged through the mud in recent months because of the Bridgestone/Firestone controversy.

WASHINGTON: The Ford Motor Company's good name has been dragged through the mud in recent months because of the Bridgestone/Firestone controversy.

Before that pothole reared up, Ford had motored along smoothly with its campaign to be viewed as a good corporate citizen. Last week, however, Ford got its message back on track and helped a deserving partner - the National Geographic Society (NGS) - launch a new cable channel to boot.

The partnership began last spring, when Ford highlighted the NGS on a TV special airing on the A&E channel called 'Ford Motor Company Presents 'Heroes for the Planet.' ' The relationship continued at a star-studded event last week, simulcast on CNBC and the National Geographic Channel on its first day of broadcast. Hosted by Pierce Brosnan, the program featured comedy by John Cleese, singing by Pat Benatar and tributes to National Geographic photographers and explorers.

Even President Clinton got in on the act with recorded remarks.

Ford's presence was evident throughout, but especially at the end when a Ford executive made a dollars 400,000 contribution to NGS president and CEO John Fahey for the society's conservation trust, which supports programs to protect the environment, including one showcased on the broadcast. The Earth Conservation Corps is a group of inner-city kids affiliated with Americorps cleaning up a polluted river in the Washington, DC area.

Everybody came out a winner. NGS received a boost through Ford's sponsorship.

Ford showcased its corporate citizenship on a television program that is expected to reach at least 397 million potential households internationally and in the US. And even the group of kids cleaning up the river made out.



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