New GM ads hit Ford hard over aluminum pickup trucks – USA TODAY
Chevrolet launched a new, national ad campaign Wednesday for its Silverado pickups that revives the often testy battle with crosstown rival Ford over who makes the biggest, best or toughest truck.
The ad campaign touts the results of lab tests that it says show how the Silverado’s roll-formed, high-strength steel bed suffers far less damage than the Ford F-150’s aluminum truck bed when a load of concrete blocks are dumped into the back of the trucks.
The ads debuted today with four-page wrap-around print advertisements in several major newspapers, including USA TODAY. General Motors also posted a 3-minute video that shows the cinder block demonstration with the F-150 truck bed getting gashed by the concrete blocks and the Silverado truck bed only being dented.
“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 aluminium,” Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director, says. “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.”
Piszar said the campaign is not a reaction to recent sales trends. Last month, sales of Ford’s F-Series pickups rose 9% while sales of the Silverado fell 12.7%. But year-to-date, F-Series truck sales are up 7.4% and Silverado sales are flat compared with the same period last year.
“When you’re the market leader for 39 years, competitors sometimes try to take shots at you with marketing stunts,” Ford spokesman Mike Levine said in a statement. “The fact remains that F-150’s high-strength, military grade, aluminum alloy cargo box offers the best combination of strength, durability, corrosion resistance, capability, safety and fuel efficiency ever offered in a pickup.”
Chevrolet’s new ads extend its “Real People. Not Actors” campaign and follows other commercials that also have taken aim at Ford’s F-150 pickups since they were launched with an aluminum body last year.
Piszar said the print ads also appeared in several newspapers in Texas, which is a top market for pickups. Chevrolet also will launch 30 second and 60 second ads television ads today and will air a two-minute video during ESPN’s SportsCenter program that starts at 6 p.m. tonight.
Last summer, Chevy launched an ad called “Cages” that gave customers a choice between taking refuge in a steel cage or an aluminum cage when a grizzly bear entered the room.
“The cages execution actually showed what consumer perceptions were for steel verses aluminum,” Piszar said. “The vast majority of people instantly ran into the steel cage, rather than the aluminum cage.”
Chevrolet also made fun of Ford’s pickups in a 2012 Super Bowl commercial called “Apocalypse.”
That ad shows several good friends, who all drive Silverado pickups, getting together after the world nearly comes to an end. The only friend missing is “Dave,” who was the only one among the group that drove a Ford F-150.
Ford was not amused. Ford executives sent a letter to GM telling the automaker to “immediately cease and desist” from airing the commercial.
Piszar said drew a sharp contrast between the 2012 Super Bowl ad and the new campaign.
“I would suggest that a Super Bowl ad has a certain tone and that was fun ad,” he said. “We are treating this (new campaign) very seriously. It’s not treated in a lighthearted manner. …It’s based on sound engineering and testing procedures.”