Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free PressPublished 3:04 PM EDT Jun 19, 2020Facing controversy, Ford Motor Co. has moved the global debut of the all-new Ford Bronco from July 9 to July 13 so it would not coincide with the birthday of O.J. Simpson, whose police chase after the killing of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson infamously occurred in a white Bronco.The Friday announcement came in a tweet from Mark Truby, vice president of communications, at 12:15 p.m., saying: “The previous date of July 9 unintentionally coincided with O.J. Simpon’s birthday. We wanted to be sensitive and respectful of this concern.”As late as 9:30 p.m. Thursday, the company had declined to comment on concerns among union workers and domestic violence advocates that spotlighting the earlier date would bring unwanted attention to O.J. Simpson, the former football star who was acquitted of murder charges in the case. Evidence presented in the trial portrayed horrific domestic violence.Tanya Brown, Nicole’s youngest sister, said she appreciated news of the change.”I think that’s a good move,” she told the Free Press. “I think that was a smart move on their part, a respectful move. This was a horrible crime, a horrible murder. Why give somebody that attention, once again?”More: New Ford Bronco will debut on July 9. Yes, that is OJ Simpson’s birthdayThe Brown family is still healing from the crime that happened June 12, 1994.Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, was found stabbed to death at her home in Brentwood, California, along with her friend, Ron Goldman, 25, a waiter.”I’m not sad; I’m not happy,” Tanya Brown said. “I guess I don’t have a reaction. It’s a nice move.”Ford declined to make any additional statement.Todd Dunn, a United Auto Workers leader who raised member concerns publicly about the July 9 date, represents about 20,000 current and retired workers from the Kentucky Truck Plant and the Louisville Assembly Plant. He was happy to hear of the date change. “It was the right thing to do, period,” he told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network. “One of our members was really passionate about what was going on, very concerned not only for our company but for our union. They were pleased to learn that when the rank-and-file members have issues, that they can get those messages to company executives.”Dunn, president of UAW Local 862, said, “I’m just glad we’ve got leadership that will listen.”Having the world premiere of the vehicle coincide with Simpson’s birthday was a trigger for union workers who have experienced domestic violence, Dunn said. And workers didn’t want the association.The Bronco reveal timeline: On June 13, Ford first announced the July 9 product debut date.On Monday, the O.J. birthday conflict was noted by the Free Press.On Thursday, the family of Nicole Brown Simpson expressing concern.On Friday, UAW leadership said members had expressed disapproval for days.On Friday, within eight hours of the UAW story, Ford changed the plan. Plan BThe original plan for a Bronco reveal was late March but the coronavirus disrupted schedules.The all-new Ford Bronco is considered one of the hottest product debuts in recent history. The popular vehicle was built from 1966 to 1996. Jim Farley, chief operating officer, told investors June 10 that Ford plans to go head-to-head with Jeep in the off-road segment. While details are unavailble, the new Ford Bronco is expected to challenge the Jeep Wrangler.The Bronco, which will be assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, will go on sale next year. Ford will offer it in a two-door and four-door version. Follow Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter @phoebesaid.
Phoebe Wall Howard