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Did Ford's F-150 Fumble To The Chevrolet Silverado During Super Bowl XLVI?

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Chevrolet Silverado '2012' ad for Super Bowl XLVI

Chevrolet Silverado '2012' ad for Super Bowl XLVI

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If you watched the Super Bowl last night, you probably caught Chevrolet's ad for the 2012 Silverado pickup. Most saw it as a clever riff on the whole 2012/Mayan calendar/world-ending thing that's rumored to occur later this year. When the folks at Ford watched it, though, all they saw was red.

The premise of the ad is simple: the apocalypse has arrived on schedule, delivered by a shower of falling meteors, alien space ships, volcanic eruptions, and a plague of frogs. As the dust settles, four friends meet up at a pre-designated rendez-vous point in their Chevrolet Silverados. Backed by strains of Barry Manilow's 1976 key-change extravaganza, "Looks Like We Made It", the four briefly discuss their friend Dave, who's nowhere to be seen.

"Dave didn't drive the longest-lasting, most dependable truck on the road," one of the four says, eyes downcast. "Dave drove a Ford."

The group look sad for a moment, then take solace in a box of Twinkies. (Sadly, cockroaches and Cher are nowhere to be seen.) 

Though the ad seems like good-natured ribbing between two Detroit rivals, set against a backdrop of global annihilation, Ford isn't laughing. In fact, according to the Detroit Free Press, Ford sent a cease-and-desist letter to General Motors insisting that it pull the commercial from the internet and stop running it on television. Ford says that the ad's claims are false and points to the sales volume for the F-series as proof that Ford pickups are thoroughly reliable and durable.

Ford's fumble

From where we sit, Ford may have fumbled on this one -- twice.

First, we're all for truth in advertising and protecting brands, but we've watched this commercial numerous times, and it seems like Chevy's comments about Ford are generic enough to dodge legal bullets. In other words, we may not be lawyers, but we're not entirely sure that Ford has a case. That makes Ford come off like a bit of a whiner, and whining is never good. (We have a suspicion it's even worse when it comes to truck ads.)

GM's marketing head honcho, Joel Ewanick, released a statement in response to Ford's letter. In it, he basically said that if the world does end, and Ford trucks do survive, GM will be happy to apologize. Our guess is that GM will capitalize on this controversy for a while. In fact, as of this morning, when we Google "Super Bowl 2012", the first ad that pops up references the Silverado, saying "Dave didn't survive the 2012 apocalypse. Will you?" (We've pasted a screencap below.)

However, Ford's biggest fumble may have been not taking advantage of the advertising buzz surrounding the Super Bowl at all. Ford chose not to run commercials during the game -- which is fine, given the hefty price tag associated with those ads. But why didn't Ford create a commercial to run online in the week prior to the game, just to generate excitement?

Ford has now acknowledged that mistake. As the automaker's marketing chief, Jim Farley, told reporters at the National Automobile Dealers Association in Las Vegas, "My biggest regret is we didn't create a long-form Super Bowl-like ad and promote it". 

For non-football junkies and Puppy Bowl fans, we've pasted the Chevy Silverado ad below. Have a look and let us know if you think Ford has a fair case, or if it's making a mountain out of a apocalyptic molehill.

Google search results for 'Super Bowl 2012' on February 6, 2012

Google search results for 'Super Bowl 2012' on February 6, 2012

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Comments (19)
  1. Hate to see my tax dollars being used to promote the lie that chevy trucks are better. government motors should try making a non subsidized profit first and then a beter truck.

  2. The longest lasting thing has been true for a great many years, promoted uncontested for decades on end. GM also turned good profits in 2011 and paid back a good deal of the loan, but you didn't notice.

  3. Watching some of the morning shows, the reaction to this ad was generally negative, at least among the commentators. Ford would be better to just let it go, I think.

  4. Ford's use of sales numbers to question the accuracy of Chevrolet's ad is ludicrous. Everyone knows GM trucks outsell Fords, but Ford clings to the technicality that GMC trucks are different than Chevrolets in order to protect its "top seller" claim. Tell you what Ford, fair is fair, so how about Chevrolet gets to include GMCs and you can include the Lincoln Blackwood and Mark LT? What's that? You're not interested. What a surprise.

  5. mikedata....i can personally tell you that the f-150 out sells the chevy and gmc sales combined

  6. I seem to remember a Ford ad from about ten years ago where an F series truck pulls a Silverado up out of the water at a launching ramp. It had sunk from the weight of a boat trailer behind it. The Ford guys laugh and say that the Chevy had sunk "Like a Rock. I don't remember Chevrolet going apopleptic at that time.

  7. Til the loans are paid back they are on the tax payers dime or rather on the taxpayer's millions. That of course does not include accounting tricks to try and claim some $$$$ paid back. Ford has outsold government motors trucks for 34 straight years. The reason, Fords are just better.

  8. Ford is again second and will not admit the defeat!They think advertising is not that important on SUPERBOWL NIGHT,SORRY THEY FUMBLED THE BALL.Chevrolet has a winner in this ad.

  9. I think the ad is fairly average - well made but the concept is not very engaging. I agree - if I was Ford - I wouldn't worry about it. In terms of sales FORD IS NUMBER 1. There is no brand of truck called GENERAL MOTORS - Chevrolet and GMC are separate brands. If you are going for largest manufacturer honours then fine - bundle them all together - BUT in terms of top selling brand of truck it is FORD.

  10. and the Silverado was named motor trend 2011 truck of the year

  11. To use another analogy - if you are in a running race and you are first over the line you are the winner. If the second place getter and third place getter are on the same team - they don't combine their results to beat the true winner.

  12. GM has hoped for years that they could overtake the F-150 and not even the 2012 SuperBowl can over take the fact that the F-150 is Motor Trend Truck of the Year!

  13. Did they ever miss this time!Now they want the public to believe GM is not fair.Ford as been pulling GM pick-ups for years and GM never complained of unfair advertising by Ford.Let ford cry for themself!

  14. wow how can any one sit there and vouge for the ford . As far as a certain person worrying about what chevy owes, we are paying back our loan. You need to worry about ford crying over the superbowl commercials. They act like they couldnt even afford to produce a commercial, u poor ford fans. watch out looks like ford is fixing to not only embaress themselves but prob take themselves out a loan. But my point is the ford stands up to its name (F.ound O.n R.oad D.ead) but thats just my opinion !!!!!!!!!

  15. the only trend about ford is, the 350 to 400$ i get for them at the salvage yard.

  16. When anyone says "Government Motors", I guess they're not aware of the $5.9 Billion U.S. Technology government loan that Ford accepted in 2009. Nissan borrowed 1.6 billion and Tesla, 465 Million. It's interesting that the GM haters never seem to have a problem with that fact.
    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/us-technology-loans-for-ford-nissan-and-tesla/

  17. i tried to agree with you but posted thumbs down its a thumbs up man

  18. The things is this those were loans from the government to do research and develop better technology for vehicles made to be safer and more fuel efficient GM is reffered to as Government Motors. Because just like the other auto makers except for ford. They had to take a loan to keep from filing bankruptcy and restructure there the ins and outs of there company so they could turn a profit again. As to where ford didnt have to do this.

  19. It seems that Ford can't accept the real "Truth About Trucks"! LOL

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