truth in advertising

Occasional Sundays find me veggin’ on the couch watching NASCAR on TV and the live leaderboard updating in a browser window on my MacBook. NASCAR is a sponsor heavy sport, so it’s only natural that some 80plus% (pure SWAG, as in the scientific wild-ass guessing type of SWAG) of the advertising spots are sponsor ads featuring the sport and the drivers. I usually watch these with mild interest and most I have seen several times. However, today marks the first time that I’ve seen the Chevrolet commercial featuring Jimmie Johnson’s achievement of back-to-back Nextel Cup Championships. Here is a version of the commercial:


I think it’s cool that the content reveals what goes into a making of a NASCAR season (or in this case, two seasons) happen, from car hardware (1,428 tires) to team personnel (98 guys from pit crew to back-of-house), but a single ‘stat’, the last ‘stat’, riled me: “one Chevy that’s built to last…built to love.”

Oh no, slow your roll! Jimmie Johnson did not win two back-to-back championships in a single, solitary Chevy car!

NASCAR drivers use multiple vehicles throughout a single season. They drive a different car on short tracks (less than 1 mile) than they do on longer tracks and superspeedways (at least 2 miles). These cars are designed to respond to the demands that the different track types place on the vehicle. Aerodynamics, engines, transmissions, and more can vary.  And because failures are inevitable, they have backup cars, backup engines, backup transmissions. It’s why you can go see an actual car raced by Jimmie, and not a life-size model, at a Lowe’s doing a special event leading up to a race.

The commercial’s desired message is that Chevrolet vehicles are reliabile and durable, that they can withstand rigorous driving conditions and still perform exceptionally. The desired message that you only need one car. Understandably, admitting that Jimmie drove multiple cars in the 2006 and 2007 seasons doesn’t sync with this message. But consider that he drove multiple models, Monte Carlo(s) in 2006 and both Monte Carlo(s) and Impala(s) in 2007*, the same Chevrolet models driven in NASCAR by any of the drivers in Chevrolets. He did drive only one brand of car, and maybe this is where Chevy gets away with taking advantage of a potentially unknowlegable public, with implying that one car is really all you need, and with bending (though I’d love to say blatently disregarding) standards designed to preserve truth in advertising.

*source: List of NASCAR Champions, Wikipedia.

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