Yes Virginia, JD Powers Awards Are Real

February 21, 2018

Turn on your television or go to a movie and you’ve probably seen the now ubiquitous ads from Chevrolet that feature real people reacting to the number of JD Powers Awards the car company has received over the last few years. These ads are so prominent that they’ve even been parodied by numerous comedians. And although car companies had been subtly mentioning any JD Power and other consumer agency awards they may have received in their advertising campaigns since the mid-1980’s, you may or may not have noticed the name until Chevy’s long-running campaign.

As a result of all the hype, some people might have started wondering if these awards are even real or if they’re just some marketing ploy cooked up by motor companies to get you to trust them and buy their cars instead of their competitor’s vehicles. However, yes, Virginia, JD Powers Awards are real.


Is JD Powers a real person?

In fact, there is actually even a real person behind the awards, named James David Power III, and yes that is his real name and his father’s and his grandfather’s. Oh, and his son is named James David Powers IV. You can’t blame them. JD Powers is a really great name. Why name your kids anything else?

Anyway,  back in 1968, JD Powers, or Dave as his friends call him, along with his wife, Julie cooked up a market research company in their kitchen, called, you guessed it, JD Powers. Like today, the company specialized in market research compiled exclusively from consumer surveys. At the time, their primary focus was surprise, surprise, the automotive industry.


Are JD Powers Awards just for cars?

JD Powers and Associates incorporated in 1969 and their first auto client was Toyota Motor Company. They quickly expanded to companies who aren’t car manufacturers and other 1969 clients included McCulloch Corporation, Ampex Consumer Products Group, U.S. Borax, Carnation, and MSI Data Systems.

And although JD Powers vehicle awards have been well known since Subaru featured them in a commercial that aired during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, their awards aren’t just for cars. JD Powers and Associates has consumer product surveys in a variety of industries, including for cellular carriers, computer manufacturers, and homebuilders.


Is there a real JD Powers trophy?

The awards that JD Powers and Associates give out do include a real-life trophy and contrary to what you may have read, companies do not “buy” awards. The awards are based on real data from real consumers. What might be causing the confusion is the fact that companies must pay a licensing fee to use the JD Powers and Associates logo and trophy in any of their advertising campaigns.

However, that doesn’t mean they got an award because they paid a licensing fee. The order of things is, consumers rate a company’s product, the company with the highest rating wins an award and if that company wants to feature the award in a commercial, then they pay a fee to JD Powers.

How do we know award recipients of JD Power Awards really do receive a trophy? Full disclosure, it’s because Saxton Industrial creates and manufactures the JD Power Award trophies and plaques at our facility in Glendale, CA.



Although some people love to create clickbait and generate negative hype, don’t believe them when they claim that JD Powers Awards are fake. They are very real awards, from a market research company that’s existed since 1968. Recipients of the award did not just buy a JD Powers trophy. They were chosen based on data from consumer surveys.

These days JD Powers and Associates are owned by the McGraw Hill Companies, but the company truly started as a family owned and operated small business, founded by a guy, who really is named JD Powers.


Did you like this article? Let us know in the comments section or share it with your friends on social media. Also, let us know what you think of awards based on consumer data.

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