The road to bankruptcy is paved with good intentions it seems. Critics are roasting Chrysler for purchasing pricey full page ads in several major newspapers thanking Americans for dishing out bailout dollars to keep the sinking company afloat.
Billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban lit into the big three member over the ad, which appeared this week in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and USA Today, and features a picture of a smiling crowd, a bold "THANK YOU AMERICA" at the top of the page, and a note thanking the citizenry for "investing in Chrysler—America's car company." The ad is signed at the bottom by Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli.
"Lets see, is there anything more idiotic than spending more than 100k dollars on a full page ad 'thanks for letting me waste your money' ad?" Cuban wrote. "Does it make it worse that its a business publication where the readers might just recognize the stupidity of wasting money on ad dollars that doesn't even try to sell the product? How does it make the next unemployed Chrysler worker feel that their entire year's salary just went for a single, ridiculous ad?"
"How does it make the next unemployed Chrysler worker feel that their entire year's salary just went for a single, ridiculous ad?"
Given widespread public skepticism of the bailout it's hardly surprising that the ads struck some observers as tone deaf.
"I get where Chrysler is coming from with this thank-you ad but, given how unpopular the bailout was, it might have been best to let well enough alone," wrote blogger Scott Payne of the Moderate Voice.
The managing director at Qorvis Communications, Stan Collender, took a less charitable view on his blog, writing that Chrysler's euphemism for the bailout was misleading.
"First, this wasn't an investment, it was a loan," Collender wrote. "Second, if it was in such desperate shape that it needed a loan from the U.S. government, why the hell was Chrysler spending any of that loan on a full-page add that doesn't sell more cars or help restructure the company?"
Asked for comment on Cuban's criticism, a spokesperson for Chrysler said that "the overall purpose of the ad was to reinforce our long-term commitment to America" and e-mailed the following statement:
"With the recent announcement by the White House, Chrysler LLC has the initial injection of working capital necessary to help bridge the liquidity crisis the industry is facing and help return the Company to profitability. The ad thanks America for this investment in Chrysler. As the process evolves, many individuals will have opinions. The Company has no higher priority than to satisfy the loan conditions laid out last Friday by the Government. As a result, Chrysler will not comment on individual opinion."
Benjamin Sarlin is a reporter for The Daily Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.