Truck Advertising Gets Tougher

Truck Advertising Gets Tougher

Last year’s trend in truck advertising was outrageous feats of strength that brought us a Chevy Silverado heavy duty pulling a freight train, a Toyota Tundra towing a trailer over a giant see-saw and a Ford F-150 stopping a landing C-123 cargo plane. Then, each manufacturer sought to outdo the others to prove how capable its trucks were. This year, they're going with good old-fashioned smack talk.

GM and Ford have signed up personalities as tough as the current sales environment to pitch their latest pickups. Ex-Oakland Raiders defensive end and NFL Hall-of-Famer Howie Long and chronically angry comedian Dennis Leary verbally jab the competition — as well as people who only drive trucks to haul their image — while highlighting the strengths and features of the automakers' latest pickups. The commercials have been running frequently throughout the NFL playoffs.

Leary’s voice-overs for Ford play up the work traits of the new 2009 F-150. He deadpans about the F-150’s new features, like trailer sway control and internet access, in addition to traditional capabilities like towing and hauling.

"Odds are, if you’re one of the people in America with a pickup truck, it ain’t a luxury, it’s a way of life," says Leary, who pokes fun at soft targets like hand models and yarn-haulers.

Leary also spends a commercial pumping the F-150’s exclusive new tailgate and box-side steps that help with access to the truck’s cargo box, claiming they’ll come in handy the “50- or 60-thousand times” a person might need to access the bed."

But Ford isn’t calling the competition out on the carpet as aggressively as GM is.

In one 30-second spot, GM pitchman Long targets the F-150’s tailgate step and its uncoordinated owner who’s just tied down a new birdhouse in the back of his Ford.

"Hey buddy, you left your little, uh, man-step down,” says Long, who’s just finished throwing bags of concrete into the back of his Silverado. The commercial highlights the Silverado’s five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (the F-150 has a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty) over the built-in step.

One unlikely fan of the man-step commercial is Ford truck marketing manager Doug Scott.

"I hope they keep running the spot because they’re doing a great job advertising that feature for us," Scott said. "Thirty-two percent of the 2009 F-150s we’ve sold have that tailgate step. We’re doing really well with it, and we’re really happy they’re running that ad because it’s proven to be a popular feature."

Long takes a swipe at the new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500, too. He asks a Ram driver who’s just tapped Long’s Silverado while backing out of a parking spot if the Dodge has a heated steering wheel and if the driver has manicured hands — both of which the Ram driver admits to with embarrassment.

We’ll politely remind Long that the Silverado’s upscale twin, the GMC Sierra Denali, also comes with a heated steering wheel, though the advertisement is trying to make a point that the Silverado’s 21 mpg highway fuel-economy rating is a superior feature over a heated wheel.

The real zinger, though, is Long’s encounter with a deep-talking Toyota Tundra driver who brags about his new “trucker’s truck and real trucker’s stuff.” Long asks about fuel economy, and the suddenly high-pitched Tundra owner says it gets 19 mpg on the highway while admitting it’s a V-6. Howie tells the man to “have fun being a real trucker,” while a Chevy voice-over touts the Silverado’s 5.3-liter V-8 and its 21 mpg highway mileage rating.

Ouch; that’s laying down some tough talk.


You know on a 40 and under temp. The heated steering wheel feels pretty good, and even after a long day working in the construction business, the heat soothes the aches of the day. Plus My Dodge 09 get 20 mpg on Hwy and has 390hp beat that Chevy, Ford and Toyota.

"Wait, I get it! That Ford driver is a wimp! He has a "car-like" pickup with great features. Hahahaha... wait, uh, what?"

I get what they're doing - trying to make their trucks look "manly" - but making fun of the competition's BETTER features is just plain stupid. Totally ineffective, except for the most ignorant of buyers. And they can't afford $40,000 Chevy pickup trucks anyway.

Very bad decision.

I liked the tundra bit only because toyota's commercials have an annoyingly deep voice.
Truck beds are getting higher and higher these days, I'd like to see Howie get into the bed of the silverado.

So chevy's saying that dodge rams are for pretty boys with manicures, f150's are for clumsy overweight guys that haul birdhouses, tundras are for faux truckers with deep voices, and silverados are for pricks that brag about 21 mpg and their awesome warranty? That's stupid, especially because a low tire, extra weight, or a heavy foot will remove the mpg advantage

I think negative ads do have a different kind of impact than the feel-good ads do.
The truck ads that ran during the play-offs sounded tough, but I don't think they came off as negative. They were more comical in my view. Dennis Leary is so sarcastic that I don't take him very seriously anyway, and the Long commercial wasn't very hard-hitting. I think most truck makers have already established their brand loyalty, and no single ad campaign will change a Ford-lover or Chevy-lover's mind. I know my Toyota-loyal man would never let an ad change his!

What about Ford? just becaue they are being passive agressive and not coming right out and saying who they are talking about doesnt make them the bigger "man" for lack of a better word.

Howie is a wuss!

Stephen A., If a heavy foot, flat tire, or extra payload will bring the silverado down a couple miles per gallon same can be said for the tundra. But reality is the v-6 will be driven harder keeping with traffic than the v-8 silverado so that 19mpg might even be 17-18mpg vs the silverados 21mpg. BTW I'm a chevy fan. I used the tundra for the example because I have no problem with ford and dodge although the silverado is superior but the toyota is a gigantic piece of shlt.

I like how Howie Long is making fun of the guy in the Ram but yet he's supposed to be a mans man by doing the pregame show on FOX while wearing more makeup then Boy George. Also I'm surprised Fox hasn't commented about Howie doing these commercials seeing that the show Howie is on is sponsored by Ford but more specifically the F-150.

I like how Howie Long is making fun of the guy in the Ram but yet he's supposed to be a mans man by doing the pregame show on FOX while wearing more makeup then Boy George. Also I'm surprised Fox hasn't commented about Howie doing these commercials seeing that the show Howie is on is sponsored by Ford but more specifically the F-150.

These truck commercials are geared towards the ingnorant. The Chevy V-6 posts about the same mileage as Toyota's V-6, they fail to mention that. Current V-6 configurations for all half ton trucks at this point are just about usless. The MPG quotes from Ford and GM are specific packages "SFE" lower gear ratios and lower H.P. motors than Dodge and Toyota and low resistance tires in the case of the Ford. Dodge and Toyota at least give you a truck with some power and the ability to get the job done for your 20 MPG.

Chevy's are for people who want to drive a truck, but don't really need it. Ford's are the way to go for real truckers.

Alright, it's as easy as this. Sure you get a few thousand more miles warranty for a Silverado. The F-150 gets 21mpg and for men 40 years and older it can start to be harder to get into the back of a truck. The steps are a great idea and Howie is going to need one of those in a few years. Addition to that he is on the Fox NFL Countdown which is sponsored by Ford..Let alone the F-150. The Tundra is just another bump in the road that is not going to be real competition with payload or towing capacity. The Dodge Ram 1500 is nothing but a pretty truck. Sure you have some good horsepower but not as good gas mileage or power period. Bottom line is if you have a brain your going to choose the Ford over any foreign or "America's best truck". Ford is on top as usual.

I think most realize the ads are all hot hair but it is interesting that Ford no longer advertises that "Quality is #1". Go to to see why. Leaky front and rear windows and blowing spark plugs kind of take the edge out of owning one, unless you are rich.

Are these manufacturers trying to move existing stock or advertising stuff they are actually building? Don't they realise YET that there is a huge market for tiny trucks? Little tiny cheap trucks with maybe a 3 or 4 cylinder diesel or electric that can haul a 4x8 sheet of plywood? Are we going to LEAD or continue to do the same wrong things??

Patrick is Right On! I have a 2002 GMC Sierra ext. cab, short bed with a V8 that gets 25 mpg with the cruise set at 65 mph. When I have the time, why not save some money! Tundra's have the wrong rear end gears for economy.......saw it coming from years back. Howie Rules!

P.S. Mobil 1 and 40 psi in the tires help!

My Goodness it not Howie fault, He just making extra money to do TV program. I wouldn't put a past that he drives a Ford Super Duty. But who's care.. Buy a truck you want and don't worry what others drive. Also about the warranty on Chevy 5-100,000 mile sound like something isn't right and Dodge now has unlimited mile, to me there someting going to break down . That's bad...Think about it!!! I'm not saying Ford is the best , but my point is every Truck has a fault of problems..Buy what make you feel comfortable.Everybody is different.. So have fun Trckin

When are they gonna change up on the body styles on the Silverado and GMC? They are soooo ugly.... The chevy look kinda of the Nissan Titan and the GMC look like a Ford. I just wandering what the new Nissan Titan gonna look like when Dodge build them and its going to have a Hemi.. Bad Boy Look out Boys!!!

I wish my 2006 Chevy had a heated steering wheel..After sitting outside all night,truck all frosty,my hands were frozen for more than a 1/2 an hour.I saw this add,and impressed me ,went out and bought a new RAM. As of this morning I have a RAM,thanks to Chevy for making me test drive one today,love the sound,power,smoothness.So I guess I look better than a Chevy guy according to Chevs add,I noticed more people looking at me,some good looking girls too..With my Black RAM Quad Cab Sport,duel exhausted HEMI power,WOW,I am a Dodge truck guy now..puts my 2006 top model Chevy Silverado to shame..As I just showed it off to my buddies with a 08 F-150,07 & 09 Silverado they were impressed,probably more so because I had always bought Ford or Chevy trucks every 2-3 years,so they know the Dodge is real good..

Gosh, Howie/GM, this Dodge Ram driver has a 20" neck, stuffed a few trap blocks in my time (wish I'd made as much money as Howie did with it, though), and gets 21-22 mpg when I keep it between 65 & 70 mph. As for the Ford step, it looks neat, but there's a limit to how much I'll pay for the option package that includes that feature. I'm 55, and getting into that elevated bed (4x4) was tough till I found a light, plastic folding step stool for about $13 at True Value. I've even backed over the thing a time or two, and it's still ticking. GMCs do look nice, but that DuraMax is a pricey commitment; I'll stick with Cummins (5.9, not 6.7). I'd like to try that Dodge Hemi with the variable displacement feature on it; I'm told it gives my diesel a run for its money mpg-wise. Oh, yeah, no hand-warmers for me, Howie....and I regularly drive over the Cascades and Coastal Range in winter.

Wow there has been a lot of talk about who has the better truck. Lets look at the big picture and hard numbers for 2009 to see who the real winner is. Chevy is bragging about their new XFE fuel economy. 5.3L V-8, 15/21 mpg with 315 hp. Ford is bragging about their new SFE fuel economy. 4.6L high output V-8, 15/21 mpg with 292 hp. Toyota brags about their monster 5.7L V-8. 14/18 mpg and 381 hp. Dodge touts their upgraded Hemi 5.7L V-8 with 390 hp and 14/20 mpg. Ford offers 5/60,000 powertrain warranty. Chevy offers 5 /100,000 powertrain. Toyota offers 5/60,000 powertrain. Dodge offers lifetime powertrain. What happens if your motor or tranny craps itself at 150k or 200k? You are out a lot of money. Chevy can tow 7,000 lbs with the SFE package. Toyota can tow 10,000 lbs with the 5.7L. Dodge can pull 9,000 lbs with the 5.7L, and Ford can pull 7,500 lbs with the SFE package. Now a lot of people will jump and shout that Ford and Chevy can tow a lot more. Sure they can, but that is if you get a bigger engine, and then your fuel economy takes a big hit. Just looking at the numbers for fuel economy vs warranty vs towing it looks like Dodge is the winner. I would gladly take the 2,000 lbs more towing for the 1 mpg decline. Oh the 100 more HP over Ford, 65 hp over Chevy AND lifetime powertrain warranty?? Looks like a no brainer to me. Now the question is, based on the info above, would your make your choice because of brand loyalty, or by the cold hard numbers?

Hey Truck guy you could get the heated steerin wheel on the Chevy trucks and Bones what going to happen when Dodge close the doors and you want have your unlimited warry. Let be relistic here all Trucks are good but the point is buy what you want and what you going to do with it. There not a number 1 Truck out there, they all have problems with it and that when you take it in and have it fixed or solved at the dealership though warry... You do you mainitance and they will last. If you going to do heavy hualin get a Diesel HD Truck, common sense. Funny How Chevy and Dodge has the V-4 and V-8 mode system that get 20 0r 21 mpg when Ford,Toyota and Nissan don't but get pretty fair MPG. But if you like them then buy. A Truck is use for working or haulin and not going to get the MPG like a car..Just buy what you can Budget on and fill comforable with... Happy Trails Keep on Truckin...

Don't forget Chevy and GMC has an 6.2 403 HP Now. Ford coming next year with a 5.0 400 HP and a 6.2 400 plus... Toyota now has a 500 HP runs in 4.4 sec. cool Happy ending....

The sidestep and tailgate stairs are good for your body, especially the older farmers (and other truckers) out there. And yes, the heated wheel is great for cold days and after a hard day's work. So in that sense Chevy is a little off. But good job on besting toycar with a v8 that more economical than their v6. All we need now is to get toycar back overseas, and the big three can have some friendly competition again like they used to.

I've had 5 chevy trucks and have never had a problem with one of them. Each has had over 200k miles. I would never buy anything else. My friends with imports and doge trucks have problems all the time. Look at how many older chevy and gmc trucks you see on the road next to all the others. Nothing even comes close.

Howie Long as a spokes model. He is so cute. I want to be like him. Keep using him to advertise. You think older men who have had long lives of hard work can't appreciate small and occasionally critical physical amenities -- of course we have the money but why cater to us -- a GM campaign that is stupid -- a spokes model that is an a** -- No one is surprised.

Since I live with my MS everyday, the idea that Ford makes a truck that makes it easier to get in and out of the back is appealing to me as a truck buyer. I amazed that Chevy does not realize how arrogant Howie looks making the "man step" comments to a guy who clearly has trouble getting out of the back.

The actor clearly gives Howie a "go to h@ll look" and Chevy should be ashamed for this ad.

Mansteps rule! Howie's gonna need one soon when he throws out his back haulin' around all of the concrete he's using to build his "Silence of the Lambs" well - it puts the lotion on...

I just have to say Who took the most Bailout Money??? How much of that did Chevy have to deal out to "Shorty"

The truck advertising information is very nice and helpful post

I could say (or repeat) alot of things about the obnoxious "man step" ad...
How it exemplifies and makes light of overt bullying (Howie Long versus the less-of-a-man, doofus Ford owner), yada yada yada...
Others have done it better.

I would like to ask GM what we might call billions of dollars in bailout money.

Hmmm.... I have a suggestion.
How about "man step"?

Whose the guy that does the Ford truck ads.

At jarret at the top, just wanted to say, yeah, that commercial was a fail for chevy cause the heated steering wheel was actually being debated when the commercial actually came out haha, but it is available on the GMC sierra denali which is the powerhorse of trucks in my opinion, love the dodges styling though

i wondered if you would be interested in some realy great truck commercials i have written over 3 years ago that i think are out of this world good, perfect for super bowl. i dont have an advertising degree or do i work for any advertising co. i was working in calif.and looking at trucks and just came up with some great ideas and wrote them that time i contacted add agencys that wrote for other truck co. butt no one would even listen to them because i wasent employed by any add co. in over 3 years no one has even come close to my adds.thank you for your time .....joe

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