Marketers Use Metal to Talk Tough – by John W. Miller (Wall Street Journal – July 29, 2015)

Industries debate elements, but gold standard always changing; tungsten battles titanium

Earlier this year, with the steel and aluminum industries duking it out in the auto industry, General Motors Co. marketed its Sierra truck as made of rolled steel like “the hulls of submarines.”

That raised the eyebrows of at least one metallurgist. “The reason those hulls are so strong is that they’re coated with titanium,” says John Tumazos, a longtime investor in metals companies.

The stone, iron and bronze ages have come and gone. Superman became known as the Man of Steel. Titanium Man was born in the 1960s. A platinum-selling album might inspire your heart of gold to make an ironclad promise. Some metallic words make you sound silver-tongued; others, tin-eared. Titanium trumps tungsten.

Metals and elements permeate language and culture, but the gold standard is constantly changing. These days, the use of metallic adjectives is more popular than ever, as makers of cars and airplanes tinker with alloys to reduce weight and enhance performance.

Last year, Ford Motor Co. made a splash when it announced it would make the new F-150 pickup truck, the nation’s top-selling vehicle, out of aluminum, a metal also known for being made into packaging foil and beer cans.

Ford has countered fears about aluminum’s strength by marketing the metal used to build its new F-150 as “high strength military-grade aluminum alloy.” Aluminum is also used to make airplanes, trucks and tanks.

The truck’s strong sales, a Ford spokesman says, prove “consumers aren’t concerned about the aluminum alloy.”

A spokesman for GM says the submarine reference in its ad was in regard to “the rolled steel in the bed, not the full truck.” He says the company uses aluminum in some components.

For the rest of this article, click here: