"BEAR FOOT" MISSTEP
The Volvo car manufacturers in 1990, following a monster truck rally in Vermont, devised an advertisement to show the strength and safety of the Volvo station wagon. The actual event of 1990 was one whereby a monster truck which because of its size was given the name "Bear Foot", rode atop of the roofs of cars lined in its path, one of which was a Volvo. The oversized truck crushed all the other vehicles in its way, except the Volvo wagon and thus the new concept of the car's added strength was adopted.
Immediate production of an advertisement to serve as a dramatization of the stunt in the rally in both print and television ads began. The Volvo Car Company chose the advertising agencies of Scali, Mc Cabe and Solves. The production crew, in an effort to enable the Volvo car to withstand the number of takes in the required filming of the advertisement, reinforced the roof of the Volvo with lumber and steel, and partially sawed through the roof support of the other cars.
The advertisement made no mention of the fact that it was a reenactment of the events of 1990, and thus leading consumers to believe that it was the actual stunt. This was Volvo's big mistake.
This act sparked interest in the attorney general of Texas, who concluded that the cars were rigged and subsequently charged Volvo with consumer fraud. Although engineers in their research determined that the Volvo car could withstand the weight of a five ton truck and that the advertisement was not misleading, the Volvo car company quickly settled the lawsuit, reimbursed the state of Texas for its legal fees and investigation expenses. As well they ran corrective ads in which the company stated they were ignorant of...