GM Takes on Ford F-150 in New Web Campaign

YouTube spots use bear, fake superhero…and Howie Long.

by on Jul.06, 2015

Howie Long compares Chevy Silverado and Ford F-150 repair costs in one new web ad.

General Motors is amping up its attack on Ford’s highly touted, aluminum-intensive F-150 in a bid to gain dominance in the hugely profitable full-size pickup segment.

The YouTube web spots – which may soon turn into a network TV campaign – rely on a 700-pound bear, a fake superhero and NFL broadcaster Howie Long in a bid to portray Ford’s new truck as too costly for the average owner to maintain.

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The stakes are huge. Full-size pickups are some of the most profitable vehicles in the industry. Ford has long dominated the segment with its F-Series line-up, but some analysts say it may be vulnerable in the wake of the switch from steel to aluminum for the 2015 model-year.

The goal was to attack Ford “in a fun way,” said GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson, who added the campaign is aimed at “telling our story.”

Ford has been riding a wave of media attention to tell its own tale ever since it first pulled the covers off the all-new F-150 at the January 2014 Detroit Auto Show. By switching to aluminum, it noted, it shed as much as 700 pounds compared to the older, steel pickup – though the gap is narrower compared to competitors like the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500.

(GM returning to medium-duty truck market. Click Here for more.)

A second ad shows men dashing for the steel, rather than aluminum cage when a bear attacks.

Ford has gone to great lengths to downplay concerns about repair challenges and costs. But the new GM campaign claims it not only costs $1,755 more for a Ford owner to make a typical repair after an accident, but that it also take 34 more days to get the F-150 back from the shop.

“So if I’m a guy that uses my truck for work, every day I don’t have that truck, that costs me money,” Long says in one of the ads. “In addition, you got higher repair bills. I’d be interested to know what happens to insurance costs. I got to tell you — all that certainly makes me think twice about an aluminum-bodied truck. Seems like you’d be taking a risk.”

In another spot, men are placed in an empty room with two metal cages, one steel, the other aluminum. When a 700-pound grizzly bear charges in, they instinctively race to the steel cage.

The third ad shows a panel of comic book fans turning thumbs down on the idea for a new superhero: the Almighty Aluminum Man.

Almighty Aluminum Man didn't play well when presented to a collection of comic nerds.

It’s not the first time Ford and GM have had a dust up. In fact, they’ve long taken aggressive potshots at one another’s trucks, including a Chevy Super Bowl ad of a few years back that led Ford to issue a cease-and-desist letter.

(Which are America’s highest-quality pickups? Click Here to see who ranked highest in the latest JD Power study.)

For its part, Ford largely dismissed the new Chevy web spots, issuing a terse statement declaring, “We’re proud to be America’s truck leader. Ford F-Series, including the all-new F-150, remains America’s best-selling truck for 38 straight years and America’s best-selling vehicle for 33 straight years.”

The two makers overwhelmingly dominate the pickup truck market, though Ram has gained ground over the last two decades by emphasizing a mix of design and capabilities. It has also scored with a new high-efficiency diesel that it quickly points out delivers even better mileage than the new aluminum F-150.

The battle for pickup primacy could get even nastier in the coming years. After largely landing with a thud, both Nissan and Toyota are planning to launch all new versions of their own full-size pickups. The next-generation Nissan Titan, due out for the 2016 model-year, has also been the subject of an ongoing web media campaign that, among other things, focuses on the benefits of its new high-power, high-mileage diesel.

Toyota has yet to talk about what it has in store for the next-generation Tundra pickup but few expect the Japanese giant to launch it quietly. Whether it will turn to a superhero, a bear or a former football store remains to be seen.

(New truck standards aimed at cutting emissions, boosting mileage. Click Herefor more.)

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4 Responses to “GM Takes on Ford F-150 in New Web Campaign”

  1. GT101 says:

    So we have mud slinging just like a typical political campaign with half-truths and innuendos intended to deceive the public. GM must be feeling the loss of truck sales?

  2. Gene says:

    That statement of 34 days to get a truck back from the shop is absolute crap. It doesn’t even take that long to BUILD the truck…
    Stuff like that tends to undermine the believability of General Motors…

    • Jorge says:

      They probably found some customer who had a new truck with a defective part and it took 34 days to get the vehicle back on the road because the part was not in the replacement parts system yet. That’s the kind of deception that unscrupulous marketing people use to dupe the gullible. Unfortunately the U.S. general public is pretty much technically illiterate and so they will take lies like this one at face value.

      Do you know of a current president who has made countless lies before and during his presidency that people still believe? Surely you have seen in the press video of the Pres speaking to the populace and telling them that “if you like the current health care coverage you have, then you can keep your current health care coverage”, under Obama care, aka the ACA. There was never a more direct lie heard around the world than his statements on health care. Now we have a broken U.S. health care system that the working class is paying for.

      People in the U.S. IME are extremely gullible and sheep like.

  3. Jorge says:

    There is little likelihood that the ads are accurate comparisons. Consumers will need to perform their own, honest evaluations if maintenance cost is a real concern.

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