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How Toby Keith Helped Ford Stay Afloat During the 2008 Financial Crisis

The late country music singer Toby Keith agreed to continue his partnership with Ford for a fraction of the pay when it needed to cut costs. Here’s a story that just came to light that should make all of you country music fans delighted as well as anyone who appreciates an outstanding individual.

During the Great Recession in 2008, Ford Motor Co. was canceling many of its sponsorships and promotional deals to help avoid going bankrupt. But when the automaker told country music singer Toby Keith it might need to cancel his multimillion-dollar contract, he offered to keep pitching Ford trucks for a fraction of the pay instead.

“We were looking for every dollar,” Ford spokesperson Mark Truby said after Keith died of stomach cancer last week. “His attitude was: This is a partnership through good and bad times. We can square up when the company is healthy again.”

Keith, who picked up an affinity for Ford from his father, started working with the company in 2002, when he used its bright yellow F-350 Tonka concept in the music video for “Who’s Your Daddy?” He helped Ford launch about a half-dozen trucks over the next 15 years, including a redesigned F-150 at the 2008 Detroit auto show with Mark Fields, who was the company’s president of the Americas at the time.

“He was never big on dress rehearsals but always brought his A game,” Truby said in an email. “Sometimes we called him with short notice to do an event or TV spot, and he would often drop everything to make it happen.”

Keith’s death Feb. 5 at age 62 came more than two years after he received his cancer diagnosis. Truby said the news prompted members of Ford’s truck team, people at its ad agency and even CEO Jim Farley to call and text one another with memories of working with Keith during their lengthy partnership.


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