Walt at Random has the most readers of any blog in its class.*
That seems like an appropriate way to begin this little poke at a full-page Chevy ad in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. The ad’s announcing an increase in incentive money, and features three different models. The highway EPA estimate appears for each model–and for two of the three, it’s accompanied by “Best-in-class highway fuel economy” (in one case followed by “with manual transmission.” And, oh yes, there’s a footnote for each of those claims.
The mileage figures aren’t bad, but they’re also not great. Not that I’m a skeptic, but, well, I was pretty sure that the Chevy Cobalt didn’t get as good mileage as a number of other compact cars.
So I did what most readers never bother to do: I read the footnotes.
Here’s the footnote for the Cobalt:
Based on 2008 GM Compact Car 3-Door Coupe segment.
And for the Impala:
Based on Impala with 3.5L engine and 2008 GM Large Car segment.
Isn’t that great? GM’s defining “class” based entirely on cars it manufactures. I don’t know how many “compact car 3-door coupe”s GM makes, but this definitely nicely avoids comparisons with all the compact cars from Honda, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda…and even Ford and Chrysler.
Imagine if libraries had advertising budgets and the same approach to facts vs. truth. Every library could really be a star, without much trouble:
Mallsville Public Library answers more reference questions than any other comparable library^
Followed by more promotional material, followed by this substantially smaller footnote:
^Based on libraries that are not part of larger library systems, that serve between 2,000 and 2,500 people and that are located within 10 miles of the Mallsville River. Phone and IM reference excluded for purposes of comparisons.
Fortunately, libraries really aren’t businesses in some key respects…
* Based on library-related blogs written by semi-retired male non-librarians between 60 and 65 years old, living in California.