In a recent ad campaign, Chevrolet made the claim that their cars are “more reliable” than Honda, Toyota, and Ford. This claim is based on some very selective survey data that Chevy sponsored. Toyota has disputed Chevrolet’s claim—and now the ad’s been pulled from the rotation.
The ad that came out early January is just one in a long line of cringe-inducing “real people” commercials, only this time it was, Chevy “surprising” people when it comes to reliability. In case you missed it here it is again: (Update 6:05 p.m.: The ad is now down from Chevy’s YouTube channel, but here is another copy from a different channel.)
Last week I detailed how some of the variables in the study were not released and therefore Chevrolet was able to make a technically correct claim about the reliability of their 2015 model year cars using a narrow operational definition and a selective data set.
However, your average consumer may take issue with this definition of “reliability” and may feel that Chevrolet is being a bit deceptive in their presentation of the data.
I was sent a tip from a salesperson at a Toyota dealer who received a communication from Toyota corporate addressing this ad. It seems the “real people” at Toyota called Chevrolet out and now the ad is being pulled from the rotation.
So then I went to Chevrolet’s YouTube channel and while the video’s hyperlink is still live, the ad is no longer on the playlist when you sort by date starting with the most recent ad.
I reached out to representatives from both Chevrolet and Toyota. A Toyota spokesperson said:
“Toyota corporate did send that message to our dealers.
Our understanding is Chevy has decided to pull the ad.”
Chevrolet responded by saying:
Chevrolet stands by the reliability claim and the ad. The ad is part of a series of creative executions of our campaign that we have been using to promote the brand overall, the all-new Silverado, our crossovers and the most affordable vehicles in our lineup. We regularly make adjustments to our advertising and media strategy to support our business needs and it should be no surprise that our primary focus is on launching our all-new Silverado, therefore we will be debuting additional new Silverado creative in the coming week that will take the place of the reliability ad. We have not altered our marketing campaigns because of any concerns with the accuracy of our ad content.
The Chevrolet rep did not directly refute the Toyota’s claim that the ad was challenged by Toyota and therefore pulled out of the rotation. Often brands will run multiple commercials for their various products during the same time frame, so this makes us wonder: if Chevy is just moving on not “concerned about the accuracy of the content,” why pull the ad completely and no longer make it available on their playlist?
The Detroit News also has a bit more detail on the back and forth, which also included Ford and Honda.
Ford, Honda and Toyota confirmed they each challenged the 60-second TV spot, which aired in Metro Detroit during the North American International Auto Show. Its title: “Chevy Surprises Competitive Owners When It Comes To Reliability.”
A lawyer for one of the three automakers who challenged the ad sent an email to GM’s legal counsel this month demanding that the automaker stop making the reliability comparison claims in its advertising campaign, according to sources familiar with the correspondence. GM was given until 5 p.m. Jan. 14 to respond to the demands.
In a verbal response, a lawyer for GM told a counterpart at one of the rival automakers that Chevrolet is moving in a different marketing direction as it ramps up its campaign for the new Silverado pickup trucks, the sources said. And the GM lawyer added that the ad already had stopped airing nationally, with plans to remove the commercial from local markets in the coming weeks, the sources said.
Of course, I am also looking forward to what Mahk has to say about all this.
Update, 5:45 p.m.: Ford spokesman Mike Levine has tweeted.