Zhongxing, a Chinese automaker, set a new standard for tin-eared marketing last week with an auto show display that billed its pickups as the go-to vehicles of the Libyan war. The exhibit at the Beijing Motor Show featured a 4×4 that rebels favoured for ferrying machine guns, along with the slogan “Tougher than war.” In the background: rolling footage, on giant LED screens, of Zhongxing’s battered vehicles amid the chaos of the uprising—including a clip showing rebels positioned on a desert highway in the trucks, wreckage around them and plumes of smoke in the distance. Other brands have gained similar notoriety (Libya’s border war with Chad in the 1980s was dubbed the Toyota War). But they at least sought to downplay their trucks’ adaptability to war zones. Not Zhongxing. The Baoding-based company highlighted the logos on the big screens in Beijing, lest its product be mistaken for someone else’s.
A Chinese automaker boasts about its war credentials
The firm's pickup trucks were a favourite among Libyan rebels