Has Automotive Clickbait Gone Too Far? You'll Never Believe This! (Except You Will)

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
has automotive clickbait gone too far you ll never believe this except you will

The internet is infamous for suspect news stories and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate reputable information from propaganda, lies, and sensationalist garbage. Credible outlets take heat as while less stringent journalism continues to gain traction. The automotive industry is no different, especially when it comes to online marketing.

We’ve all been cruising the internet mindlessly and seen a suspicious headline for a new car paired with a blatantly fake image. I remember seeing photoshopped fifth generation Camaros purported to be “The Next Firebird” routinely for about a year before Pontiac finally passed away in 2010. While I knew it was bunk, I clicked anyway and compounded the problem. Sadly, things have not improved in the last few years.

Dealers and manufacturers are trying to figure out a way to ensure their products are better represented in the digital landscape — but they are struggling.

Automotive News recently pointed out a slew of freshly sponsored posts and ads on Facebook showcasing “new” models of the Cadillac Escalade and Dodge Charger — which isn’t even due for a redesign until after 2020 — accompanied by misleading or doctored images. Let’s also not forget how much speculative imagery and information has been shot into the World Wide Web over the highly anticipated Ford Bronco.

However, the sources of these duplicitous details are incredibly difficult to pin down. In the case of the phony Escalade, where a group called Auto Elite digitally altered the SUV into a low and rounded crossover, the ad vanished after Auto News contacted the poster. The group then changed its name to Auto Review Hub, where it maintains a healthy following, and continues to post list-focused articles.

Several Metro Detroit dealerships owned by Ken Garff Automotive Group of Salt Lake City have been unwittingly sponsoring ads or posts using specious vehicle imagery. After clicking on the suspect social media posts, users are then delivered to a website with links to the actual dealership websites as “sponsored ads.” For the Detroit-based dealerships, a post featuring a two-door coupe with shaved door-handles and side mounted exhaust, misrepresented as the “New Dodge Charger,” linked to a secondary page housing the actual images of the car and genuine dealer ads.

Jeremy Nef, digital marketing director for the Ken Garff group, said he was unaware of the practice and had contacted Google AdSense — informing them that that his company no longer wanted to be associated with the sites. “We absolutely do not condone anything like this,” he said. “Deceptive advertising is not something we believe in. It’s absolutely contrary to our values.”

While automotive companies can ask Facebook to investigate something that they believe might infringe upon their intellectual property, the website’s bylaws don’t prohibit blatantly false information or modified images. Advertisements can even present intentionally misleading or vague content, so long as it links to the product that it was lying about.

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2 of 22 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Mar 07, 2017

    "Credible outlets take heat as #FakeNews" "Credible outlets"? I lol'd. That's being said, there's plenty of fake news on both sides.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 07, 2017

    There was even a rumor of a new Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am being sold under the Buick name. If that were true would it be branded as a Buick-Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am. Just what we need is to add a hyphenated name to the Alpha number nomenclature. There is also talk of a Barracuda convertible based on the Challenger which would be a Dodge-Plymouth Barracuda.

  • TheEndlessEnigma I just had one of these earlier this week as a rental while on a business trip. What a completely uninteresting and forgettable appliance the "Corolla Cross" is. Rock hard seating, gutless engine, slushy transmission that pauses to allow you to reconsider your throttle inputs before grudgingly acceding to your suggestions, uninspired handling, poor visibility and "look at me I'm the same as everyone else" styling. Pretty poor effort from Toyota be will be spoken of positively because it is a Toyota, regardless of the vehicle's actual merits....or lack thereof.
  • Da Coyote It's attractive, but having owned an Alfa in college (yes, I was stupid enough to have one), and even having loved driving it during the few days it was drivable, I'll give it a pass. However, I'd love Italian styling coupled with Toyota engineering. A painful thought would be Toyota styling coupled to Alfa engineering.
  • EBFlex Only 33 miles is disappointing. 50 miles should be the absolute minimum when it comes to PHEVs, especially for the cost of this Toenail
  • Theflyersfan I pass by the "old money" neighborhoods next to the golf course community where many of the doctors and non-ambulance chaser lawyers live in town and these new Range Rovers are popping up everywhere. It used to the Q8 and SQ8, but I'm thinking those leases expired, traded in, or given to their never leaving home son or daughter so they can smash it at a DUI stop, get on the news, and get out of jail free. I'm not getting into their new design language, and I like Land Rovers. They aren't supposed to look like smooth bars of soap - they need a few character lines or hints of offroad ability, even though the odds of this getting on anything other than a gravel parking lot are less than nil. And with the new Range Rover's rear and the taillights, if I wanted a small solid red bar for a lamp that did everything and then dies and then I can't tell what the car wants to do, I'd follow a late 80's, early 90's Oldsmobile 98.
  • Lou_BC Legalize cannabis for racing