We all ran by them this morning on the way to the Fusion introduction. Two signs. One sign said, “FORD PRESS EVENT”. The sign below it said “SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS”. The arrow pointed a different way. Who are “social media influencers”, anyway?
What was the “Volt Lounge”, and why were so many prominent auto-related Twitterati spending time there today instead of walking the NAIAS show floor?
The photo above is a plane that reportedly left Detroit tonight. Why did Audi reportedly feel the need to fly dozens of bloggers from NAIAS to CES, at their expense?
We’ve complained about this on TTAC before, but on a day where we have seen so many newsworthy new cars, it’s important to remind all of you that a lot of the “news” is bought and paid for. General Motors and Ford both spent obscene amounts of money to fly “social media influencers” to Detroit from all over the world. The way these bloggers experience Detroit is very different from the way the TTAC crew did. They are herded from place to place, given talking points, and relentlessly groomed to Tweet and blog only the most flattering and sponsor-centric information. “Insider events” make sure that the GM bloggers, for example, didn’t see the plug-in Fusion — and the Ford bloggers were nowhere in evidence when the new Hyundais hit the ground. Instead, a group of mostly young, handsome, and gregarious PR people ensure that only the most profitable news reaches the ears of their impressionable charges.
Meanwhile, Audi apparently chartered an entire Boeing 737 to make sure “lifestyle” bloggers went straight from the new Q3 Vail to the newest disposable electronic garbage in Vegas. Lincoln’s introducing the new MKZ in the morning, and it’s aimed right at the Audi A4 — but for the Audi charter crew, that car’s invisible. Meanwhile, Ford’s blogger babies will be Tweeting Revolutionary Em Kay Zee News All Morning. It’s modern American politics writ in automotive steel: ignore the contrasting choices, pick a team, be loyal rather than curious.
As we did last year, TTAC is calling on all compensated bloggers to trumpet that fact loud and clear at the BEGINNING of their coverage, not in a italicized end disclaimer. If your view of the world’s most important auto show was through a marketing glass darkly, let your followers know.
Now it’s time for the TTAC team disclaimers:
- Jack Baruth drove a Lincoln Town Car with 73,920 miles to the event. He accepted no alcohol or food from manufacturers and paid his own bills.
- Ronnie Schreiber paid his own way and is a native Detroiter.
- The Speed:Sport:Life crew flew from Houston, TX and Washington, DC at their own expense, paid their own way, and did not accept any manufacturer benefits on Day One of the show while covering the event for TTAC.
- Derek Kreindler stayed home in Toronto because his girlfriend is gorgeous and he didn’t want to play pickup ball.
- Bertel Schmitt monitored our activity from the
secret Chinese moon basenearest internet cafe.
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