Chevy targets Ford F-150 aluminum beds in new ads

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet brand is touting the strength of its pickup bed vs. the Ford F-150 in a new national marketing campaign that featured a four-page wrapped newspaper ad in Wednesday’s Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and USA Today.

The bow-tie brand launched a new advertising campaign Wednesday that highlights lab tests and demonstrations of a loader dumping concrete blocks into the truck beds of the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ford F-150. Chevy says the demonstrations, including in videos, show the differences and benefits of the Silverado’s rolled formed high-strength steel bed over the 2016 F-150’s stamped aluminum truck bed, with the Silverado bed outperforming the F-150 bed.

“We engineer and build our trucks with customers’ expectations in mind. For example, Silverado features a roll-formed, high-strength steel bed because truck customers demand the ability to haul their toys, tools and other cargo,” said Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director, in a statement. “These videos demonstrate the real-world benefits of the Silverado’s bed, in both extreme and everyday scenarios.”

Chevrolet spokesman Jim Cain said an advertising campaign featuring two-minute, 60-second and 30-second commercials begins airing Wednesday, with heavy rotations planned on ESPN during “SportsCenter” and during NASCAR racing, Major League Baseball and the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals. The videos also will be shown in movie theaters starting Wednesday before films start.

The ads continue Chevy’s “Real People. Not Actors” campaign and included Ford, Toyota, Ram and Chevy customers, Cain said. GM is not disclosing the cost of its new Silverado marketing campaign.

In a video, a load of concrete blocks is dumped a few times into the beds of each trucks and they then view the results. The ad shows the Silverado ends up with some dents, while the F-150 bed had some puncture holes. Another test included pushing a steel tool box off the side rail of the truck into the bed, and had similar results.

Mike Levine, North America product communications manager for Ford Motor Company, stood behind the F-150’s durability.

“When you’re the market leader for 39 years, competitors sometimes try to take shots at you with marketing stunts,” Levine said. “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. We have built nearly a million new F-150s, and our lead over the competition continues to grow.”

This isn’t the first time Chevy has taken shots at the Ford F-150 in advertising. Last year, Chevy used a 700-pound grizzly bear, a fake superhero and NFL Hall-of-Famer Howie Long to make light and aim at the aluminum F-150 in videos and advertising.

The F-150 is the sales leader in pickups. Through May this year, F Series truck sales have totaled 324,307, up 7.4 percent, while Silverado sales have totaled 223,990, down 0.1 percent year-over-year. May Silverado sales were down 12.7 percent.

Chevrolet did the demonstrations without bedliners, though about half of customers buy a bedliner when it leaves the dealership, according to Chevy.

Cain said GM engineers discovered the difference of the beds during benchmark testing of competitor vehicles and were surprised.

The 2015 F-150 was the first pickup to be made with a body and bed of aluminum, helping save around 700 pounds compared to the 2014 model.

Chevy said in its testing, it used a wedge-shaped striker that weighed 17 pounds and the Silverado bed remained intact up to 90 joules of impact energy, while the aluminum-bed floor had hairline cracks at 30 joules and was completely punctured at 40 joules.

Another test included dropping 55 landscape blocks weighing about 825 pounds into the beds of the Silverado and F-150 from 5 feet above. Chevy said in all 12 comparisons shot for its video, the Silverado had scratches and dents in the truck bed, while the F-150 bed sustained punctures in each drop, averaging 4.3 punctures per drop. Chevy said it believes that “could reduce the utility” of the F-150’s bed.

In the toolbox drop, the Silverado was dented in 12 of 14 demos and twice left a pinhole puncture in the bed. Chevy says that the toolbox left “sizable” punctures in the truck bed during 13 demonstrations, while one left a dent.

“If a customer does manage to puncture the high-strength steel bed of the Silverado, they have the added peace of mind knowing steel tends to be easier to repair than aluminum — potentially saving money and minimizing time without their truck,” Piszar said in a statement.

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