DEARBOURN, Michigan: Ford Motor Company has emerged smelling of roses from round two of the US automakers' $17.4 billion (€12.54bn; £11.71bn) bailout debacle, having scored a PR home run with its "thanks a lot but no thanks" response to Congress.
Although Ford sought and got a $9bn line of credit, that sum will continue to gather dust in the Federal Reserve unless the current financial climate worsens.
Its decision is likely to play well with the public, according to Doug Spong president of ad agency Carmichael Lynch Spong, whose client list includes Japanese automaker Subaru.
Spong tips his hat to Ford for its show of support for GM and Chrysler, while refusing any of the funding.
"Ford has been really smart about supporting the bailout package for their rivals. And I think, more than just turning down the bridge loan, the fact that they have actually come out and supported two very bitter but worthy competitors says as much about the corporate culture as anything.
"Does it long term make them the preferred brand over the others? I don't know about that; time will tell."
Meantime, Ford ceo Alan Mulally is playing it cool. "All of us at Ford appreciate the prudent step the administration has taken to address the near-term liquidity issues of GM and Chrysler.
"The US auto industry is highly interdependent, and a failure of one of our competitors would have a ripple effect that could jeopardize millions of jobs and further damage the already weakened US economy."
So how does Ford convert this sudden surge of public goodwill into an rush on its dealer lots?
Says Spong in hypothetical mode: "If I'm counseling Ford, certainly I'm not running ads with William Ford III coming out and extolling the virtues of not having participated in the bailout and taking a pass on the free money. That looks too self-indulgent and would actually turn off consumers.
"[Ford] just need to keep doing what they are doing: support the industry and their competitors, continue to talk about how it's good for everybody when there's a healthy automotive industry; and support the public discussion and policy that favors the automotive industry and not just Ford."
Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff