Any gearhead watching a sporting event in the past few weeks must have received a bit of a shock if they happened to catch Chevrolet's latest ad campaign. In yet another installment of the 'Real People' series, Chevy's spokesman brings in a couple of groups of car owners to surprise them with the news that Chevrolet is, in fact, the most reliable car company in the United States. Specifically, more reliable than Toyota, Honda, and Ford.
Rather than lifting walls, raising cars out of the floor, or quoting JD Power and Associates, this cringe-worthy iteration features a few tarps being pulled, quite loudly, off of a foursome of vehicles. The Average Janes and Joes all seem happy to be informed that their car comes from a manufacturer with the highest reliability ratings. Clearly, they've all avoided television for the past few years or spend a lot of time looking up 'gullible' in the dictionary because their reactions seem genuine when they discover Chevy's bowties on the cars under the tarps.
But there's only one problem and it's one that Ford, Toyota, and Honda all picked up on pretty quickly. (And one that legal-minded viewers must have noticed.) Whereas Chevrolet's past ads typically highlight the accolades they've received from JD Power, this one leaves everyone guessing as to exactly which study provided the stats necessary to make these claims.
As reported by The Detroit News, among others, legal teams from Ford, Toyota, and Honda all reached out to Chevrolet insisting for more detail or for the ad campaign to be shut down. Chevrolet decided to respond by claiming that their new focus will be on the revamped Silverado pickup truck and that the 'Real People' reliability ad would be shelved.
It turns out, Chevrolet's documentation for their reliability claims was dubious, at best. Further research revealed that the survey in question was financed by Chevrolet in 2015, used a small sample size, and included a very specific definition of the 'reliability' term. For context, independent data from Consumer Reports Lexus and Toyota at the top of their reliability charts.
And yet, Chevrolet responded to The Detroit News, saying, "Chevrolet stands by the reliability claim and the ad remains in the brand’s toolbox but we have decided to take it out of the regular rotation at this time to launch new Silverado creative. We have not altered our marketing campaign because of any concerns with the accuracy of our ad content."
Perhaps only real people will be able to analyze this data and decide how reliable Chevy's claims actually are.