CHATOM, Ala. — Two weeks ago, Southern Alabama’s Chatom Ford scored a viral hit with a video promising a free Bible, American flag, and 12-gauge shotgun with every purchase. Last week, Ford Motor Co. asked the dealership to end the promotion, calling it “inappropriate” in light of a murder-suicide at a California Ford dealership, General Sales Manager Koby Palmer told multiple media outlets.
“This is just showing support for our local community,” Palmer told USA Today. “Anyone that doesn’t 100% agree with what we’re portraying, we’re not trying to force our beliefs on anybody. We respect anybody that disagrees, no matter how vehemently they do.”
Palmer made clear there were no shotguns at the dealership. In addition to their Bible — or Torah, or Quran — and flag, sold customers were offered a certificate they could take to one of several certified firearms dealers in Alabama or Mississippi. The promotion was set to run through the end of July.
Ford spokesman T.R. Reid acknowledged the request came down from Ford’s Southeast regional office.
“This is a local promotion. It is not something Ford developed and the dealers are independent businesses,” Reid told the Detroit Free Press. “But if a dealership is [altering the promotion] in light of the tragedy, that seems appropriate.”
Palmer told USA Today the original post had garnered more than 250,000 views and generated calls from car buyers in five states and Europe by the time he took it down.
“I guess it went viral, as the kids say,” Palmer said. “We live in a small town of 1,200 people. It’s a very small, rural area. They lean on their religious beliefs, their pride in America, and they love to hunt.”