If you saw the video above on Autoblog, accompanied by some tired prose suggesting that you summon some enthusiasm for this, the latest automotive promotion, would you think twice? You might if you knew the person who posted the story, and knew they were being paid to promote said promotion. But how does one actually get an inside look at the gritty world of automotive PR payola? How do you break through the great wall of… what’s that, Jalopnik?
Today, Autoblog writer Jeff Glucker wrote about Nissan’s Britney Spears contest. Trouble is, he’s working for the agency that’s running it.
Earlier this week, [then-Autoblog Associate Editor Jeff] Glucker sent out an e-mail solicitation to several of his contacts in the automotive website world, asking for help promoting a new campaign for the Nissan Versa:
I am working with third-party agency that’s assisting Nissan with a new campaign for the Versa. No, I didn’t lose my job or anything – this is just some side contracting work so I can buy a second iPad or golden shift-knob for my car.
Once upon a time, this stuff was easy. When Jean Jennings needed a little extra pocket change all she had to do was… make an ad. Like this one, for the Silverado. Or this one, for Jeep (which I swear was still visible less than a year ago). Nowadays, however, you’ve got to be a little more careful about how you go about lending your “editorial credibility” to one of the brands you’re supposed to be covering rather than shilling for. So instead of the straight-up “Hi, I’m Jean Jennings, Editor-in-Chief of Automobile Magazine, and here’s why I love Chevy’s Silverado” pimpatorial of the past, you’ve got to layer on the irony, load up on non-car-related distractions (I’ve got it… a puppet!) and generally avoid the personal testimonial format as much as possible. (Read More…)
Sources close to the negotiations told The Detroit News that a deal was imminent with General Motors Co. when Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sat down at his Mac computer and fired off a sharply worded letter to UAW President Bob King at 10 p.m. Wednesday, accusing the union leader of violating their gentlemen’s agreement to sign off on a deal by the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
Shortly after the letter was sent, talks stopped at both companies.
Chrysler and the UAW agreed to extend their current contract for one week. Talks resumed Thursday between the two sides, but nothing of substance is being discussed at the bargaining table, according to people familiar with the talks.
Actually, that’s not exactly what everyone is reporting…
The Sept. 5 article about our efforts at GreenTech Automotive (“Real deal?”) stands in stark contrast with the Aug. 28 article in which you reported on partnerships between Toyota and Ford, Tesla, Aston Martin, Lotus and Salesforce.com (“Doing deals, Akio style”). The latter story says Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda “is breaking tradition to transform his ossified giant into a nimble competitor.”
Nimble competition is a key to success in our modern age of change and innovation. Yet you seem to take GreenTech to task for attempting just that. We aren’t trying to be GM, and we never plan on being bailed out by the U.S. government. We are embracing a different, leaner business model in which our world-class partners will play a key role in our success, and we are doing it with private capital.
Thanks to the TTAC faithful, we will now begin airing regular shows every Thursday at 7:00 PM EST at this Internet site. Today’s guest will be none other than Jack Baruth. What we’ll talk about… who knows? That’s where you come in. Let us know what you would like for us to cover and we’ll be happy to bring it up.
Last month, a group calling itself the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) obtained a great deal of exposure for red light cameras through the “National Stop on Red Week” publicity campaign. Several police departments around the country participated, with most news reports treating the issue as a public service announcement. Documents show the group coordinating this effort, NCSR, is controlled exclusively by the photo ticketing firm American Traffic Solutions (ATS).
Frank Greve’s “Taking Readers For a Ride” article told us a little bit about the priorities in he auto PR business. If you write for a buff-book, sugar will be blown up your anal orifice. If you are a blogger – tough noogies. That stance is utterly misguided and so past millennium, says someone who knows best. That someone is Scott Painter. Never heard of him? I’m sure you heard of TrueCar. Scott Painter is TrueCar’s founder. TrueCar and competitor Edmunds know the car business better than the manufacturers: Truecar and Edmunds predict monthly sales with razor-sharp accuracy, their analyses of transaction pricing and incentives provide unprecedented (and often unwelcome) transparency. Investor’s Business Daily had an interview with Painter. And what picture did he paint?
“Today, 98% of people who bought a car in the U.S. last month went online first. That is the reality and also the industry’s frustration.” (Read More…)
When bearded flip-flop enthusiast and serial-ruiner Jonny Lieberman recently wrote about his new long-term-tester fantasy ride – a stick-shifted, murda’d-out Caddy CTS-V wagon – he facebooked a prediction, “Cue the Baruth-venom in 3…2…1…” Quoth JB in response, “No venom here. In the best liberal fashion I have censured you for the ethics of it and moved on.”
Those of us in the peanut gallery goggled at the collegiality of the kaijus of contrarianism; thank goodness they weren’t going to start throwing buildings at each other again. Now Frank Greve’s AJR piece on auto-journo shillsterism has shown up, basically lauding Mr. Baruth as the Last Honest Man In Auto Journalism™ and intimating that Motor Trend is, by comparison, the painted whore of Babylon. Jeez, hasn’t Tokyo suffered enough?
The first is the ‘golden’ road. You simply buy or test drive a car with no string attached. Consumer Reports and guerrilla reviewers who ‘test drive’ at the dealership are the recipients of this honor.
The second is the ‘reality’ road. You use the press fleets and go to sponsored events. It cost less. But you realize the shiny happy PR people are going to try to twist your arm.
Most successful journalists start at the guerrilla side of number one and end up at number two.
But there are a ‘chosen few’ who embrace a third road… the mouthpiece road. Who knows? If you can shill and ‘build’ your relationships, you may just end up with a Maserati.
There’s a noticeable difference between the mpg number posted on some cars’ window sticker and an analysis of the data submitted by automakers to the EPA.
We’ve tried to get several automakers to comment on the accusation, but nobody wants to touch it. But, as we’ve looked into the issue, a few more details have surfaced that seem worth sharing. Hit the jump for the latest… (Read More…)
I will be filling for a couple of good friends at a radio show this evening. The ‘Wheels Events Radio Hour’ will be broadcast live at 7:00 P.M. Eastern time at thisInternetsite. We will be covering upcoming events with the SCCA along with my own miscellaneous ramblings about cars and the auto auction world. Who knows? I may even try to do some bid calling if they give me something to sell.
Sadly, while Steve’s on the air I’ll be busy gawking at a ’37 Hispano-Suiza, Jag XK-SS, Bugatti Atlante and the other ridiculous rides that make up the “Allure of The Automobile” Exhibit with my old man. So why don’t you tune in for me?
Please excuse the self-congratulation, but little breakthroughs like this are a big deal for a site like TTAC. The American Journalism Review has a fantastic piece by Frank Greve on the murky and corrupted world of professional car reviewing, which is well encapsulated in the piece’s subtitle
The world of car reviewing is replete with expensive perks and fantasy vehicles. Consumer advocates need not apply.
And after running through the litany of corruptions endemic in the system, Greve concludes:
Web sites like Jalopnik and The Truth About Cars deliver more independent, aggressive and timely coverage for car enthusiasts than traditional car magazines like Motor Trend.
With all due respect to MT (which is but one of many), that sounds like the truth to me. As does Greve’s description of how press cars are allotted (by the likelihood of a positive review). And for one of his examples of the system at its worst, Greve describe an incident involving TTAC’s own Jack Baruth and the aftermath of his no-holds-barred review of the Porsche Panamera. (Read More…)
Knowing that some of the top PR professionals in the business are regular readers of TTAC (they could be anyone…), I can imagine a number of them shaking their heads in disapproval at the headline of this post. “It’s happened,” they’re probably muttering to themselves, “TTAC has finally lost the plot.” But instead of dismissing out of hand the seemingly preposterous premise of this post, I ask the assembled anonymous masses of PR pros to bear with me for a moment. As laughable as it might seem to postulate that the industry’s spin doctors can learn something from the most infamously “off the reservation” auto exec ever, the urge to write off this post is part of the very problem I hope to tackle. Allow me to explain… (Read More…)
Swedish radio cites an unnamed source close to Saab as saying the troubled automaker was preparing to file for court-protected reorganization, as it struggles to pay workers and restart production. Under that scenario, Sweden would pay worker salaries while reorganization takes place. But at the company’s official mouthpiece, inside.saab.com, a press release refuses to deny or rule out that Saab has chosen this route. The release reads:
Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) is aware of certain reports in Swedish media related to a possible filing by Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) for a voluntary reorganization under Swedish law.
Swan confirms its earlier announcements that it is in discussions with several parties to secure the short and medium term funding of Saab Automobile to restart and sustain production. In order to secure the continuity of Saab Automobile, Swan and Saab Automobile are evaluating all available options. Swan will update the market in case of new developments.
This non-denial might be read as a confirmation that Saab is considering filing for court protection, but hasn’t yet decided on that course of action. Meanwhile, Saab has delayed its latest financial report, and its online PR rep continues to blame the media for concluding that because Saab can’t sell cars, pay suppliers, restart production or even pay salaries on time it’s destined for bankruptcy court.