Isn't it great that General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are having a spitting contest about Lee Iacocca's TV commercials for Chrysler?
In the three commercials, Chrysler claims its cars and trucks hold their value better than Ford or GM vehicles, meaning in the aggregate on a sales-weighted basis. GM says no way when you compare the vehicles head-to-head. And Ford says its newest vehicles do better than GM.
I'm no business psychologist, but it sure seems as if the only time we see this back-and-forth sniping is when all three companies are feeling feisty.
And what makes them feel so feisty? I don't know for sure, but I suspect that a surge in sales also can ignite a surge in testosterone levels, especially when it comes to something important and inherently macho like residual values and TV commercials.
And that's true even though the broader financial picture is still gloomy. Could you imagine this happening three months ago, before employee-discount pricing gave GM and Ford something to swagger about again? Chrysler already was swaggering a little, thanks to the Chrysler 300 and the Hemi.
Three months ago, Ford and GM were on the ropes. Everybody picked on 'em. It's tough taking the offensive when everybody has you figured for a 97-pound weakling, ripe for a little roughing up by the new bully on the block.
You would like to think this is a turning point; that GM, Ford and Chrysler are starting to flex some muscle and show some swagger. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more Mr. Milquetoast.
That may not yet be realistic. So far the ad dispute is just some lawyers throwing spitballs at each other.
But if the employee-discount incentives continue to drive strong sales into August and beyond -- and nobody wimps out on their residual value claims -- maybe this innocuous dispute can be a springboard to more exciting times.
Who knows? If this thing escalates -- and moves through a bunch of preliminary bouts -- we could see a battle royal pitting the likes of Bill Ford, Rick Wagoner and Dieter Zetsche in some mano-a-mano competition.
And wouldn't that be something to see?
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