Chevrolet has uploaded a three-minute comparison spot in which an 825-pound load of cobblestones is dumped first into the steel bed of one of its Silverado pickups, then into the aluminum bed of a Ford F-150. Guess which fares better under the pressure?
Then, to pound in the point since not everyone is using a backhoe to dump rocks on a regular basis, it perches an empty toolbox on the side rails of each vehicle and — oops! — someone gives it a nudge. Yep, the Silverado fares much better — two tiny punctures in 14 overall toolbox mishaps while the F-150’s bed was pierced all but once. With the stones, the Silverado proved impenetrable, while the F-150 suffered an average of 4.3 punctures per drop, according to Chevy.
All of this is observed by a motley crew of “real people, not actors,” including one woman, wearing appropriate earmuffs and safety goggles. Besides being really impressed by the cascading stones — “awesome” is the word of choice both before and after the fall — they have even choicer comments for the durability of the Chevy truck and the vulnerability of the Ford.
“Ooooooo.” “Wow.” “That’s a big hole.” “That’s a huge hole.” “That’s a good size puncture.” ‘That’s a true split.” You get the picture. Then some solid business advice is proffered. “I’m surprised that they’re trying to put a product out like this,” says one fellow. “And, you know, they’re supposed to [unintelligible] Ford tough,” adds another. “I think they need to change their motto,” chimes in a third.
As of this morning, more than 3.1 million additional folks have viewed the product demonstration since it went up on YouTube Tuesday. Nearly 6,000 people have left comments on both sides of the argument, many of them quite vociferous.
The video is part of a national ad campaign Chevy launched yesterday with “four-page, wrap-around print advertisements in the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News along with an insert in USA Today and ads in several newspapers in Texas,” Brent Snavely reports for the Detroit Free Press. There will be television ads, too.
“Our focus is on showing that we put the customer first in everything we do. So it's not an attack on Ford and it's not an attack on aluminum,” Chevrolet truck marketing director Sandor Piszar tells Snavely. “Our engineering team found that we had a competitive advantage in the strength of our bed. Really, we are compelled to get the word out.”
And, presumably, have it make a bigger impact on consumers’ psyches than other comparative executions have.
“Chevy’s marketing has previously touted studies that found the Silverado to have lower costs of ownership and repairs than the F-150, but the effort hasn’t appeared to put much of a dent into the Ford’s sales,” Fox News reports. “Through the end of May, F-Series sales were up over 7% to 324,307, while the Silverado's dropped nearly 13% to 223,990 compared to last year. Those figures include super and heavy-duty versions of the pickups, Fords [that don’t feature] aluminum beds.”
And what’s this about aluminum creeping into future Silverados?
“Chevy claims this isn’t an attack on Ford and aluminum, but it’s hard to watch the video and believe a word of that claim. Rumors from last year also point to the next Silverado sporting a fair bit of aluminum as well, so we wonder if the marketing team is talking to the engineers,” writes Zac Palmer for Autoweek. “Regardless, the truck wars wage on; let’s wait and see what Ford punches back with.”
For now, it’s just a run-of-the-mill statement.
“When you’re the market leader for 39 years, competitors sometimes try to take shots at you with marketing stunts,” according to a Ford spokesman quoted by Mike Spector, Christina Rogers and Gautham Nagesh in the Wall Street Journal. “He added that the F-150’s ‘high-strength, military grade, aluminum alloy cargo box’ provides leading strength, durability and corrosion resistance, among other benefits.”
But with the cola wars succumbing to the insidious impact of sugar- shaming and the beers wars devolving into a multi-fronted battle against craft brews, isn’t it wonderful to have a good, old-fashioned marketing slugfest to entertain us in between the wheelhouse blows of the political season?