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Chrysler Spends Taxpayer Money to Thank Taxpayers for Their Money

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The latest chapter in a public-relations disaster.

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The Big 3 automakers are almost endearingly tone-deaf when it comes to public relations. Whether designing spectacularly undesirable cars that no one would want to buy or going begging for government handouts in private jets, Chrysler, GM (GM) and Ford (F) resemble nothing so much as the 3 stooges as far as their public image is concerned.

The latest chapter in this particular black comedy: Chrysler has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and USAToday thanking Americans for giving the company a multi-billion dollar bailout. It clearly intends to spend that money wisely.

This is the same bailout, mind you, that nearly 7 in 10 Americans opposed.

When Chrysler posted the offending ads on its official blog, the public outcry was immediate and staggering. To wit:

  • "We were forced to help you. Thank us by acting responsibly for a change. This ad is the equivalent of salt poured on an open wound. If you had any common sense, you would be ashamed.

  • "That useless ad money could have been put into research and development to make better quality and fuel-efficient vehicles. This has got to be the most expensive thank-you card ever written; providing better products would be just as sufficient.

  • "Clearly this advertising campaign was dreamt up and approved by individuals who have no contact with the average American. The problem with your company and that of many American companies is the ridiculous financial separation of upper management from that of the average middle-income American.

  • "This ad screams 'Hey, look what we're doing with your tax dollars, lol.' This ad is yet another example of frivolous and clueless spending. Thank us by using OUR money to make your company profitable, not with a meaningless ad.

  • Dear Chrysler: I don't like to pay for things twice, so -- since I've already paid to bail you out of your mess -- I won't be buying any of your vehicles.
    Yours truly, A great-great-grandnephew of Walter P. Chrysler

  • If it comes down to Chrysler or walking... We'll walk. I'll put my kids on a mule before I'll put them in a Chrysler. Suck it, you parasites.


And, most succinctly:

  • Go to hell, Chrysler. I wasn't going to buy one of your vehicles before, and I certainly am never going to do so after this.

America has clearly spoken, and, we can rest assured: The Big 3 aren't listening.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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