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“Government Motors” on Fire

An excerpt from Jason Vine's tell-all, “What Did Jesus Drive”

by on Dec.01, 2014

Vines holds few punches as he looks at how automakers like Ford and GM have handled big crises.

Jason Vines has served as head of public relations for both Ford and Nissan, and as part of the senior PR team at Chrysler. He’s also functioned as an outside consultant to several other major automakers, including General Motors – giving Vines an unprecedented insider’s view of some of the biggest crises to shake the industry over the last two decades.

That includes the Ford/Firestone exploding tire disaster blamed for 271 deaths, as well as the ongoing General Motors ignition switch debacle. In this excerpt from Vines’ new book, “What Did Jesus Drive,” he offers a devastating, inside look at GM’s attempt to handle that scandal.

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Two weeks before GM’s first Congressional hearing regarding the ignition switch debacle, Selim (ed: former GM PR chief Selim Bingol) was on the phone. “Any advice,” he said. “You’ve been through this shit.”

Up to now, GM had been vigorously putting out CEO Mary Barra in every form of communications thinkable, apologizing profusely for the past transgressions of the “Old GM” and the humanity of the “New” post-bankruptcy GM, including a hideous video in which Barra looked like she was a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton in ‘Nam.


Former Ford PR Boss Charges Maker Tapped Phones, Car

Vines says Bill Ford Jr. leaked stories to NY Times.

by on Oct.24, 2014

Former Ford PR Executive Jason Vines alleges the automaker bugged his phones, office and car in his new book.

Former Ford PR Chief Jason Vines is alleging that the automaker eavesdropped on his conversations and those of other top executives during his tenure at the company.

In his soon-to-be-released book, “What Did Jesus Drive? Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity,” Vines claims that security personnel for the automaker bugged his car, cell phone and office for a three-month period during the Firestone tire crisis in 2001.

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He further alleges that he wasn’t the only executive who was being tapped. He suggests then-general counsel John Rintamaki also believed he was being listened to and during a sensitive conversation in Rintamaki’s office, the lawyer pumped up the volume on some classical music to counteract the devices. (more…)

Shaking Up the PR World

Yes, Simon, you can come home again.

by on Jul.28, 2009

What keeps folks like Simon Sproule coming back to back-breaking auto PR jobs?

What keeps folks like Simon Sproule coming back to back-breaking auto PR jobs?

“You can’t go home again,” the author Thomas Wolfe wrote, in the book by the same title.  And usually, that seems to be true.  But not if you’re Simon Sproule.

In a relatively brief but meteoric career, the 40-year-old Brit went from a minor player in Ford’s global media relations machine to become the worldwide head of public relations for Nissan Motor Co., reporting directly to CEO Carlos Ghosn.  And then, late last year, Sproule shocked those who know him by announcing he’d be leaving the auto industry to join Microsoft as the tech giant’s new PR chief.

I have to admit, knowing him since he was a virtual child prodigy that I referred to as “Young Simon Sproule,” I didn’t really see him in the tech world.  Capable?  Absolutely.  But there’s something about the auto business that gets anyone connected with it, whether a worker bee, PR flack or media hack, hooked.  And so, I couldn’t even fake the slightest bit of surprise when the newly-married Sproule politely called me, this afternoon, to reveal that he was lured back by the siren call of Carlos Ghosn, and would be moving yet again, but this time to Paris.  Sproule will take on the newly-created position as head of PR for the Nissan/Renault Global Alliance.

Even the flaks trust us!

Even the flaks trust us!

“My heart is in the auto business,” he admitted from his office at Microsoft, noting that he’ll be back to work with Nissan/Renault on September 1st.