Car ads know to put in fine text disclaimers wherever necessary, so that they're never really lying to people, but that doesn't mean they're never misleading.

While we were talking about Toyota nearly selling as many Camrys as the much newer Accord despite the 'Yota's seriously outdated design, reader shortyoh pointed out how much perception might have to do with those numbers. Then things got statistical.

And nevermind that the Camry statistically doesn't last any longer than the Accord, the 6, or the Fusion...

Toyota had a real winner of a campaign a few years ago when they could advertise that "80% of all Toyotas sold in the last 20 years are still on the road". It totally reinforced consumer biases, but it was complete nonsense.

Why?

Not that they were unreliable - not at all. But it was a garbage statement because the average car has a certain survival rate - if it is x years old, it has a y% chance of still being on the road another year. All sorts of things affect this rate. The reliability of the car and accidents are the two major ones. But Toyota's sales numbers were so heavily biased towards new sales that if you applied just the average car survival rate to their sales numbers, you found that you would actually EXPECT near 80% of Toyotas sold in that 20 year period to still be on the road, even if they were just average for reliability. All you had to do was shift the survival curve by 6 months and voila, you got 80%. So in reality, Toyotas were lasting just 6 months longer than average.

And then you have to ask yourself why? Is it because they are better built, or is because the public THINKS they are better built, and therefore pays more for them and with higher resale values, the cars are less likely to be totaled in an accident?

At that time, my Taurus and my Camry were about the same age. The Taurus had a blue book of $2,100 and the Camry had a blue book of $4,300. A fender bender strong enough just to crack the plastic covers on the Taurus might total it, but it wouldn't be the case on the Camry...

But it was brilliant advertising. I had a relative buy into it - when their 9 year old Corolla bit the dust with massive electrical problems, they bought another Toyota, because "they last forever"....

At least someone else gets it, too...

Is there a more misleading ad that you can think of? Post it in Kinja below.