Chevrolet grinds Ford's gears

WHILE the New England Patriots and New York Giants battle it out on the Super Bowl field a bigger battle is happening in the corporate suites.

Ford Motor Company threatened to sue General Motors if it ran an advertisement that depicted only Chevrolet pick-up drivers emerging safely from an apocalyptic scene; the owner of a Ford F150 was not so lucky.

>> Check out Chevrolet's Super Bowl ad

When asked what happened to a missing mate, one of the survivors says: "Dave didn't drive the longest lasting, most dependable truck on the road. Dave drove a Ford."

The fineprint says: "Dependability based on longevity: 1981 to July 2011 full-size pick-up registrations."

Ford tried to stop the advertisement from airing and said it would sue GM if it wasn't withdrawn. Ford says the F Series has been the world's biggest selling pick-up for 35 years and defended the vehicle's safety record.

But the controversial ad ran before quarter time, and so the battle is expected to continue after the game.

The Silverado ad had received 1.7 million views on You Tube before kick-off.

Not including the cost of production, car makers spend up to $3.5 million on each 30-second Super Bowl ad spot, which have become a feature of the telecast.

The manufacturers often hire big name movie directors and actors to do the spots, and run the ads online in the weeks leading up to the game.

Jim Farley, Ford's global sales and marketing chief, told reporters at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas on the weekend: "We've been the leader in the truck market and the best-selling vehicle for 35 years. So from an advertising standpoint, we will absolutely defend our leadership in the market."

It's not the first time that Ford and GM have been at each other's throats in the history of North America's oldest continuously running nameplates.

Last year, in a book on Ford by Bill Vlasic of the New York Times, Farley was quoted as saying he hates GM and what it stands for.

"I'm going to beat Chevrolet on the head with a bat. And I'm going to enjoy it," Farley is quoted in the book as saying.

Last week, the former boss of Holden and now the head of Chevrolet sales, Briton Alan Batey, responded to Farley's jab.

"It's interesting because Farley uses the analogy of using a baseball bat," said Batey. "Well, where I come from, you use cricket bats and they are like three times bigger. So, I actually favor my chances on that one."