Catty ad claim You gotta read the small print, Mother always advised.
That was apparently the case in a new print advertisement General Motors Corp. ran for its Cadillac Seville STS. The piece has got the dander up of BMW of North America Inc., which wants GM to pull the ad over what it says are credibility problems.
Caddy says its STS outperforms the BMW 540i in a slalom course. The ad's headline boasts, ``Ultimately this is the driving machine in the slalom''—a play on the words of BMW's ``The ultimate driving machine'' ad tag line.
The problem isn't as much with the wording but rather with the tires used on the two cars Caddy tested. The ad's small print reveals the Seville was tested with optional Z-rated tires—top speed 150 mph—while the 540i ran the slalom with standard H-rated tires, speed rated at 118 mph.
A BMW spokesman said GM put performance equipment on the Seville ``but elected not to do that on the BMW. That's not an apples-to-apples comparison.''
However, a GM spokesman recently told Automotive News the auto maker's legal department had not heard anything about the flap and, at that point, the company had no plans to pull or change the ad.
To quote Rodney King: ``Can't we all just get along?''
A couple of erudite readers called us on the carpet, so to speak, over an April 26 Marketplace item in which we noted claims that the 1990 U.S. census did not count 8 million persons and counted 4 million twice. We called that a ``wash'' and chastised critics to ``do the math.''
Well mea culpa, one and all. Mick Brown of Michelin North America's Earthmover Marketing Group pointed out: The 4 million people counted twice would actually have to be counted three times in order to ``wash'' those 8 million not counted—the first time for themselves, and the second and third times for the missing 8 million.''
And in another e-mail, Jay Moore of Safe Way Tire Center Inc. in St. Charles, Mo., said that, following our logic, the count would be off by 4 million because ``you still have to count the twice counted 4 million people in your total.''
Just checking to see how many faithful readers are really on their toes. Of course we knew the correct answer. See, it was a trick question...yeah, sure.
Anyway, math—and statistics—have never been our forte. Why do you think we got into journalism?
Keep watching the skies
Tired of the same old same old? Auto repair or tire retailing got you down, bunky? Perhaps you should consider a true ``niche market.''
Treadmarks, the Topeka, Kan.-based Mid America Tire Dealers Association's newsletter, suggests dealers may want to diversify—by selling insurance.
More specifically, alien abduction insurance. Florida-based UFO Abduction Insurance Co. (and you thought only the ``Left Coast'' has a lock on goofy stuff?)—introduced a plan about 10 years ago that'll get you a $10 million policy for $19.99. The newsletter, citing published reports, said policy holders are covered for psychiatric care, sarcasm protection and a double indemnity clause ``if your hosts regard you as a food source.''
If a claimant proves an abduction took place, they will re- ceive just $1 per year, it continued, but can collect until death or 1 million years—whichever happens first.
Not much more bizarre than selling tires today for almost the same price as you did 10 years ago.
This 'n that
Jeff Foxworthy wannabe?—At a recent meeting of The Maintenance Council (TMC), Al Cohn, marketing manager, commercial systems engineering for Goodyear, had 'em rolling in the aisles with his take-off on the comedian who's built a career on his ``redneck'' jokes.
``You know you're a redneck,'' Mr. Cohn deadpanned, ``if you've ever had a conversation about truck tires for more than an hour!''
That sure covers a lot of us, doesn't it?
And research firm Markinetics Inc.'s Dana Coleman noted: ``Statistics show that every two minutes another statistic is created'' (often by firms such as Markinetics).
You know you're a paranoiac if...—A survey by American Management Association reports company monitoring of e-mail has increased to 27 percent in the past two years—up from 15 percent, according to an item in TMC's Maintenance Matters newsletter. Companies have also increased employee surveillance by using video cameras and monitoring phone and computer use—at 39 percent, up from 34 percent.
So don't worry. That clicking you hear on the phone while talking with your bookie is just the boss listening in.
On the Web: While doing, ahem, research on the latex and, uh, rubber industries, a colleague found a World Wide Web site calling itself ``Condom Country''—which claims to be one of the ``hottest e-commerce sites on the Internet'' (no doubt). Its ``mascot'' is horse-riding ``Prophylactic Pete, the Condom Cowboy.'' No further comment is really necessary.
Good line—Referring to former pathologist Dr. Jack Kevorkian acting as his own attorney during his recent trial on second-degree murder charges, Michael Feldman, host of the public radio show ``Whadya' Know?'' said of ``Doctor Death'': ``Now he's done for law what he's done for the medical profession.''
Better never than late: Way back on Aug. 4 of last year we mailed 642 surveys to the owners of independent tire dealerships, querying them on various aspects of their employee compensation packages. We then published several special reports in Tire Business based on survey results.
Lo and behold, on March 15 of this year we got a survey back—stamped ``Return to Sender'' by the U.S. Postal Service. No wonder e-mail and overnight delivery services are displacing ``snail mail.'' We could have driven the letter to Louisville, Miss., tried to hand-deliver it to the dealer and got back to Akron before the postal service worked its magic.
How's my driving?—You've seen those signs on the back of tractor/trailers that provide a 1-800 phone number to call to report bad or good driving by the trucker.
National Public Radio did a story on the growing trend in the trucking industry to use companies that monitor (mostly) complaints from motorists about truckers on the highway.
That elicited a comment from a listener who reported following a trailer bearing one of those stickers. But the trucker had pasted another over the phone number saying: ``How's my driving? Let's race and you'll find out.'' Keep on truckin'.