The Ford Bronco hasn’t even gone on sale, but the rivalry between it and the Jeep Wrangler is already getting intense. Last year, Stellantis and Jeep filed a complaint with the National Advertising Bureau (NAB) on Ford’s marketing of the 2021 Bronco and Bronco Sport. These arguments centered around Ford’s use of “best in class” and “segment leading” (among others) in their advertising, claiming they were misleading because the Bronco had not yet gone on sale. A NAB watchdog investigation mostly cleared Ford of these allegations, although they’ll have to stop using a few claims and clarify others.
For the most part, Stellantis and the Jeep Wrangler lost this battle. The company’s main claims centered around Ford’s use of “best in class” held up in favor of its rival, even though the 2021 Ford Bronco has yet to go on sale. That’s because the NAD found it is standard industry practice to claim something as best in class during the reveal of a new vehicle, and the claims Ford had on the pre-production reveal vehicle were stats the production SUV will carry.
But Ford was told to stop using one main claim in their advertising: “engineered . . . for . . . segment-leading . . . long term off-road performance and dependability.” The NAD watchdog ruled that consumers would logically believe the Bronco has the best in class long term off-road dependability, but that claim can’t be substantiated until a comparison test delivers data to support this. Ford made no reference to competitor data or performance testing of either the new Bronco or Jeep Wrangler.
Without facts to support this claim, the Dearborn-based automaker will have to stop using it regardless.
Ford was also told to better differentiate whether a best in class term applies to only the Bronco, and not the Bronco Sport. In the press release and media kit for the Bronco and Bronco Sport reveal last summer, the NAD found: “least one message reasonably conveyed is that the ‘best-in-class’ claims, as they appear in context, apply equally to all Bronco models, including the Bronco Sport.”
Now, the NAD is saying Ford can continue to use their “best in class” marketing, but need to better specify when their phrasing doesn’t extend to the Bronco Sport.
It’s unclear if Jeep expected a bigger win for their Wrangler here, but Ford has agreed to all the conditions of the investigation into their Bronco marketing moving forward.