Should Chevy Have Held Its Fire With Silverado "Bed Wars" Ad

Chevy Bed Dump Ad II

Why would anyone want to drop more than 800 pounds of expensive landscape blocks into a pickup bed from five feet in the air? Nobody in his or her right mind would allow a guy at the local building supply store to dump a load into a bed like that. We understand that's not the point; like many nonsensical commercials nowadays -- the point is that you could if you wanted to.

As it relates to the tiresome game of one-upmanship in pickup truck advertising, that kind of self-promotion (or attack promotion) seen in the latest Chevy Silverado commercial is likely to be around for a long time to come. And don't get us wrong; we like healthy competition and testing and we want to see the results. 

In fact, on a related note, it wasn't that long ago that we had our first chance to drive the redesigned Honda Ridgeline. Honda engineers were especially pleased to show us a rock-drop demonstration to show how the tough, scratch-proof composite bed could deal with big, heavy river rocks dumped from a front-end loader. It made a pretty good sound too, but we should note these rocks all were rounded and probably didn't total more than 400 or 500 pounds. The bed had no scratches, dents or cracks.

I remember hearing from a Chevy Colorado marketing person not long after the Honda event that he thought the demo was a little silly because nobody would do that to their (or a friend's) pickup. The Colorado bed is rolled steel and, without a bedliner, likely would suffer quite a few dents and scratches.

But then came the May 2016 sales results and both the Chevy and GMC full-size pickups took a big hit - down more than 11 percent combined compared to May 2015. Ouch!

GM instantly announced the return of its "Truck Month" incentive program for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duty and HD models. And right in the middle of this, Chevy was pushing hard with its "Right Tool For the Job" ad campaign that hasn't directly called out Ford but made the target. We especially liked the commercials that offered random people the choice of a steel or aluminum cage in which to take cover when a gorilla wandered into the room: The majority chose steel (see below).

Beyond the elevated intensity of the long-standing Ford vs. Chevy pickup rivalry, we have to ask why Chevy chose now to pull out this strategy to poke big holes the F-150 bed's aluminum armor? (Chevy says that the unlined Silverado steel bed suffered scratches and dents, while the stones poked holes in the Ford's unlined aluminum bed.)

Is it me or is there a hint of desperation here. I say this because this new series of Bed War attacks doesn't seem to fit the current or previous ad strategy stressing quality, tool choice and reliability. Somewhere in the chain of command someone must have decided that the need for June sales outweighed waiting for a more suitable time.

Our Detroit Editor, Aaron Bragman, had some alternative observations about this GM strategy. From his perspective, Chevy could be positioning itself as the go-to brand for truck buyers who might be unhappy with what they discover about the durability of their Ford F-150 truck bed. Bragman said he has little doubt the GM engineers found this bed vulnerability nugget in testing their current and next-gen pickups against the F-150.

But in that case, why not sit on it for a while, especially since the next-generation Silverado and Sierra are just around the corner (possibly late next year). Pull out this card when you unveil the new truck and when every media outlet wants to know why you didn't use more aluminum like Ford did with its 2015 F-150 redesign. That's when you say, "Here are the tests we did and this is what we found." Boom!

Not only does it look like you care about serious truck bed testing, it also looks like you are dedicated to giving your customers the best product you can build and that means using a combination of several materials with rolled steel on your bed floor. Seems reasonable.

Regardless of who makes the next proportional or out-of-proportion response, these types of tests will keep things interesting (and honest) for the foreseeable future. And now that Ford has decided to carry over the F-150's aluminum weight-saving strategy to the heavy-duty Super Duty models (due out this fall), we're guessing we'll see the same issues on the HD side of the lineup. The next several months' sales will tell GM and Ford whether the issue of pickup bed durability (Ford says fewer than one percent of F-150 buyers have complained about some aspect of their bed) is enough to push or pull customers to one brand or another. More to come.

Manufacturer image


Steel vs. Aluminum Cage: Bear



Steel vs. Aluminum Bed: Rock





These tests all have an element of half truth to them to some degree, or extreme realism. As an example, Pickup gave points in a recent comparison because one of the mfrs was "rated" with a certain mileage. This was a comparison test. Why would a "rating" from a testing agency matter if you're there to test it for real and compare them? So you can argue all day about the semantics or disagree with the methodology of certain tests or comparisons, but the bottom line is Ford's aluminum bed IS inferior in strength and durability to that of a steel bed. There will be fallout from any major conversion like Ford has done. Some people have issues with aluminum, some have issues with turbo charged engines, etc. Ford is taking a gamble on this. And the sheep seem to be following.

It is perfect advertising versus a competitor whose new technology has not been fully embraced by the truck-buying public yet. GM hit a home run, even if the so called "test" is more marketing than science.

Get used to seeing it. It will run on your TV on EVERY NFL game this fall

"Is it me or is there a hint of desperation here."
It's you Mark.
I'd like you to comment on a new Ford commercial, that F150 is Military Grade, Battlefield tested truck. Isn't that a hint of desperation ? Shouldn't you equip all your solders with F150s ?


Just like how you are a sheep for GM trucks. I do believe that its obvious that steel is stronger then aluminum, but right now its too early to say how the durability is. As for turbo charged engines.. all engines have their issues, especially when you try new high tech things but like anything, with experience comes better tech and they improve all the time. Maybe my your way of thought we should go back to the horse and buggy because those engines of the early years had alot of issues.

Composites > Steel > Aluminum for strength in this day and age.

And Composites won't rust away quickly like the paper thin steel used on modern trucks nor will it corrode like the paper thin aluminum. And I do see corrosion as an issue for the F-150 because if it isn't a future concern, Ford would use it like a marketing hammer in commercials showing pictures of recent Chevy trucks with rust issues over the rear wheels on their beds. One only has to assume that Ford has found they will have similar corrosion problems in that same area.

Regardless, I enjoyed the Chevy commercial. It's the closest thing to 'Like A Rock' marketing that we've seen from them since the 90's. Because their marketing has been abysmal since that era when it comes to trucks.

I'm not as concerned about a few dents as I am about rust. Never seen a bed that couldn't be used because of dents, have seen some rusted out. The first time you load a pallet in your new truck you're gonna lose some paint. Ford should do some accelerated rusting tests on beds after the paint is scratched up. As far as that goes, on the body as well.

More evidence of the Ford bias from this site. Again, the brick/block/rock drop test is an exaggerated stress test designed to test the bed's limit as well as show what years of everyday use will do to your bed. Not only that but materials are sometimes dropped in that way, not usually, but it does happen. It's no different than the engine tests where they are run at high RPM's for hours (days?) to simulate years of wear.

The only desperation I see is trying to discredit the tests and results. Just admit that Ford sacrificed capability for economy, because there is no justifying an inferior material. To stop holes from being blown open in the aluminum beds there are several solutions and they are all easy and inexpensive, but I'm sure Ford can figure that out on their own.


OK PUTC , you should remain neutral and just present information and facts. Leave it to us to provide the biased color commentary.


Oh boy, PUTC is coming out to defend its prized F-150, Mike Lavine must have sent over an email.

The joint venture to develop the 10 speed transmission is done, so now the companies can go back to stabbing each other.

I'm not even a Chevy guy but I'm not against giving credit when it's due. GM hit a home run with this commercial clearly showing a major advantage in bed durability when the truck is actually used for work.

Good job by GM to own the water-cooler chat for a while. Everybody can bitch and moan but after going over Ford 1/2 tons with a fine tooth comb they found an area of advantage and they're doing their best to exploit it.

Here's a couple of bigger questions. I can make sure that when I drop angled rock with sharp and jagged edges from 8 feet into my F-150's bed I will buy the $100 rubber bed mat to prevent anything from piercing it.

How much money does my buddy have to spend to get his crew cab Chevy to upgrade it from an iihs "marginal" safety rating to the "good" that my F-150 has?

How many F-150's have GM engineers tore apart to look for any competitive advantage?

This the best advantage they could find? The sauce is very weak indeed.

The reason Chevrolet is attacking Ford is because they are a serious rival. While it's true that most people will not drop kilograms of rocks into a bed once, they wanted demonstrate that it can be done safely. The F-150 and Silverado are both tough trucks, but this article was written out of irritation and partiality.

GM has no credibility in its ads. GM has a history of attacking the competition and then copying them a few years later:

retractible bed side steps

rear step

heated stearing wheel

60k warranty

Gm didnt get to enjoy the glory very long before honda came in and use their pimp hand to slap gm around. If you plan on dumping stuff or toolboxes in the bed of your truck without adding any additional protection honda is the only one that is capable. Not gm not ford not ram. If a manf uses a metal as the bed floor it wont hold up to the abuse like a honda.

The reason Chevrolet is attacking Ford is because they are seriously behind and losing sales. While it's true that most people will not remove their bedliner and then drop kilograms of rocks into a bare bed, they wanted demonstrate that it can be done safely if they load the buckets a certain way and use photography tricks. The F-150 and Silverado are both tough trucks, but this commercial was made out of irritation and desperation by Chevy.

I wouldn't call what Chevy did as done safely. The Chevy bed got dented and got holes even with their extra precaution and rigging the the Chevy loader and ligtening the toolbox. If you want holes and dents in your bed do what Chevy does and remove the bedliner and call it safe. smh.

Those of us who have been around for a few decades are aware that GM has long used attack ads. Remember the heated steering wheel negative ads? Chevy now has heated steering wheel as an option on some models. Remember the boat ramp negative ads? And on and on and on.

That approach has long been the approach of those longing but failing to take over number one. I used to be, years and years ago, a GM fan. But these ads are one of several reasons I will never again buy GM. The main reasons have to do with frequency of repair and breakdowns. Yes, some of you feel differently. My feelings are based on my experiences in more than 50 years of automotive ownership. To each his own but this buyer steers clear of GM dealerships.

I thought the commercial was a good move. They saw a weakness, and they went for it. I don't have a dog in these pickup ruck wars, but it's obvious the writer(s) for this site do. I can't help but notice the defensive articles for Ford... bias much? seriously has bias issues with their commentary and opinion pieces. Just report the story guys. Unless you get a check in the mail from Ford, just let this Ford manlove go. Its getting tiresome seriously has bias issues with their commentary and opinion pieces. Just report the pro GM stories and GM talking points guys. Unless you get a check in the mail from Ram, get this GM manlove going. Its getting worriesome over on GMI.

Are you guys kidding me? Do a search on YouTube for Mike Row F150. There are several vidioes of Ford doing the same "hit" videos. Any one remember the stupid bolt test? What about the F150 frame test last year where Ford used the frame to pick up the trucks. What about the wash board road test.

I'd like a third opinion that is not biased toward Ford or GM. A neutral car media outlet to bring out both trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado (or GMC Sierra) and the Ford F-150, with naked beds and do the rock drop test, block drop test, brick drop, whatever, same amount, same height, same equipment, and let the customers judge the extent of damage to each box and decide for themselves which truck is best for them.

instead of using expensive landscape bricks,(3.50 a block) lets use good old cinder block's ($1 a block)and see how much damage is done.

the only people this commercial will bother are those who might plan on using it as a construction truck

This site is always pro ford ive be looking more and at less bias and less childish comments. goodbye

Can Mark Williams and this site get any more bias! Come on! Just count how many pro Ford articles they write and opinions they express in other manufacturers articles about how Ford is somehow better or more funtional. Mark W is always expressing his love in one way or another to ford trucks and particularly F150. Report the facts! We already know your opinion. The fact is that the F150 bed sucks! Deal with it

MW did report the facts. Sorry if you only want GM press releases.

GM doctored the photos and (allegedly) rigged the tests.

Honda's stunt was not impressive. They used less weight and only round river rocks and only dropped the load one time.

It is time for PUTC to conduct an unbiased third party test with and without a bedliner.

GM did a great job with the ad. In my opinion this was perfect timing. Everybody knows the super duties are all aluminum and are about to go on sale. Why not attack the aluminum bed right before the super duties go on sale? Makes sense to me.

This site is always pro ford ive be looking more and at less bias and less childish comments. goodbye

Posted by: SKEETER | Jun 18, 2016 3:08:17 PM

I will have to try that one. I agree this site is so pro Ford it's way too evident.

Don't buy the Ford spray in liner, it peels up like a banana

Good job GM you nailed it!

There's a war on for your mind! Don't go to TFL either. The owner of that site drives a F-150! His tests are a joke - video based with no facts and are heavily biased.

I agree. TFL is a joke!

They gave the 2016 F150 a higher score on the IKE Guantlett eventhough the 6.2 Silverado was faster!

TFL is pro-Ford.

TFL is okay, they try to be fair but their testing has been very inconsistant. I think they are getting better though.

At least they're out there testing.

The Ridgeline video was better because it looked more real and believable. no proffesional editing. No script. just a guy dumping rock in the bed. The chevy ad made me wonder how much the actors were paid and how many tries it took to get the results they wanted. Maybe it only took one? but the point is it makes you wonder what the whole story is. Maybe nxt time they should broadcast the test results live.

the only think gm did its to respond to Ford about is military aluminum grade this aluminum grade it's tick like a air plane nothing to compare to a thank or any tick aluminum,,,and it's true for the same body work job it cost twice a 10 h jod it's a 20 h job his is from a Ford dealer ,,,,

to those complaining about bias. Why don't you just call 1-800 wa wa wa. wa wa. wa wa. You sound like whiny girls whose favorite barbie didn't win the preschool barbie beauty pageant. Pretty sure Mark williams is as much a fan of toyota as any other brand. And pretty sure chevy has won as many or more of the competitions than ford has since mark williams has been running the show here. Where are these crybabies everytime mark williams has a negative thing to say about the ford or everytime a chevy or ram wins some comparison?

GM has no credibility in its ads. GM has a history of attacking the competition and then copying them a few years later:

retractible bed side steps
rear step
heated stearing wheel
60k warranty

Posted by: Ken | Jun 18, 2016 12:19:29 PM

Except that in each case, GM did it better. The Ford step sucks and they were right to mock that sissy step.


This site is always pro ford ive be looking more and at less bias and less childish comments. goodbye
Posted by: SKEETER | Jun 18, 2016 3:08:17 PM

Doesn't help that Mike Levine will forever be associated with this website. On slow news days there's always a Ford news story pro-Ford fluff article that's had Levine's hands on it. Not to mention that whole random brake failure issue on EB F-150's seems to have gone silent. Not even any questions raised as to why Ford didn't act until a few years later when the feds started poking around.

Don't buy the Ford spray in liner, it peels up like a banana
Posted by: Beck | Jun 18, 2016 4:53:24 PM

Damn that factory liner is a joke. Wouldn't take much to start peeling away after dragging jagged/sharp objects across it. I've lost a lost of respect for Ford with the latest truck.
Hmm, truth be told BY GM, it's STEEL bed did heavy good damage and eventualy pin holes in the bed. Geeee Another dumb GM stunt backfired.

I haul coal with my older F-150 and the issue I have is the weak sides of the bed. The load pushes out the side of the bed that it's tough to get the tailgate open or closed. People tend to forget a closed tailgate holds the sides of the bed together.

Everyone knows the bed take a beating this is why it used to be made from wood, replaced the wood in mine when it needed it and didn't have it rust out. Its just faster for the manufacture to use metal now. All the farmers used wood beds because the animals could stand on wood not metal, but what the heck we have few farmers left anyway. How soon we all forget.

How many times did GM drop those rocks in the F150 in order to get that results?? Only GM knows but it certainly took more than once. The truth will come out.

The desperation on part GM is real. Their numbers are dropping on cars and trucks. I'm sure the recent safety rating on the F150 was a hard pill to swallow for GM. Ford is on the leading edge of most things and will continue to do so. We will see an aluminum truck body on a GM truck soon enough. Then we will see how they will handle all the negative advertising, regarding aluminum, they have been spinning. I do think having this contest between Ford and GM is the best thing for all of us. The products just keep getting better for it.

Yep the Pro Ford site. I have been reading this site less and less.
TFLTRUCK has it's flaws as well but they are less biased than this site here. They try to do more testing as well. I can see them just improving over there.
This site needs a total revamp. Way to much kiddy name calling and childish acts on here.

Can't blame Mark for trying to land a job at Ford.

Sure GM has a stronger bed. Facts we know as well are the new alloy Ford bed is stronger than the out going steel bed of the last generation F150. So though GM bed is stronger this isn't really a steel verse aluminum issue. GM engineers simply made a stronger bed and since they are still using steel are marketing steel vs aluminum. There are numerous ways Ford could increase strength of their bed without it being steel such as a layer of composite over or in between the alloy. The super duty is announced to have a stronger alloy bed than the F150 so not sure why PUTC didn't catch that. Problems will likely NOT carry over to super duty. Especially since the bed won't be used much if any harder than what GM did in their commercial. Last point here is that Ford claims that less than 1% of over a million alloy F150s sold had customers issues relating to the bed. It's not easy being number one. Yes the GM is stronger in their own demonstration but millions of customers will have no issues with Fords bed.

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