By on July 28, 2021

YouTube ScreenshotPress-car abuse is a part of the automotive journalism industry. So, too, is damage caused by normally diligent journalists who made a mistake/had some bad luck. I don’t intentionally abuse vehicles, but I’ve dented and dinged and broken a few things because sometimes shit happens.

What I have not done is use a press car to help flood victims. Nor have I been scolded for doing so, even though the car wasn’t apparently damaged.

A European YouTuber apparently angered Audi by using an RS6 to assist flood victims in Germany, despite the fact that he apparently only used it to haul supplies, equipment, and personnel, and any off-roading he did wasn’t too extreme. It sounds like the car was undamaged.

Yet said YouTuber got an email from Audi that made the brand sound none too pleased with his use of the car.

Here in the States, we sign contracts before each loan promising not to drink and drive, to pay for any parking or speeding tickets, and so on. Some OEMs don’t want their cars street parked overnight (though I am sure it happens in urban areas where it can be unavoidable), and most won’t allow a journalist’s family members to drive without permission. Some frown on transporting pets. It should go without saying that we need permission to take a car to the track or a truck/SUV off-road. We even need special permission to cross into Canada or Mexico, and that has nothing to do with COVID — the requirement has existed for a long time.

I don’t know what Audi allows for its German press cars, but it strikes me that using the car to assist with flood victims would be in-bounds, as long as the driver wasn’t putting the car through off-roading it can’t handle. He did say he drove through some “extreme environments”, but it’s not clear what those environments were/are and if they offered up terrain that would be too tough to tackle for an RS6.

I mean, a road covered in standing water could be considered “extreme”, even if the water isn’t deep enough to damage the car.

One could even make an argument that the journalist showed just what the Audi can — and can’t — do. And that he gave the brand good publicity by showcasing its abilities. That’s called “earned media” — positive publicity the brand didn’t pay for. Any positive review could be considered earned media, and so too could YouTube videos showing an Audi being put to use to help disaster victims.

What say you — was Audi or the journalist in the wrong?

[Image: YouTube screenshot]

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24 Comments on “Audi Press Car Used to Help Flood Victims...”


  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Audi is being very petty. I’d think I’d take the good publicity and run with it. Now they are probably making a bigger story out of what was already a “feel good” story and they are going to end up looking like out of touch fools.

    If the car is undamaged, and you give a member of the press a wagon or CUV/SUV, unless it is stipulated that I can’t carry anything larger than a soda or coffee in the cupholder, I’m going to load it up. And if I could help flood victims, so be it.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The man performed a good deed – I don’t see Audi’s issue.

    Side note: if I sell a kidney, would it be enough to buy an RS6 Avant?

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Audi missed a golden opportunity to turn this into a massive PR campaign.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Helping flood victims” sounds dramatic.

    Hauling supplies, equipment, and personnel is what he did. Don’t many press cars do the same thing?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Related:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/we-live-in-a-golden-age-of-dinosaur-chicken-nuggets-11627482268

  • avatar

    This isn’t a good look for Audi PR.

    The journalist is being dramatic and saying that he was helping flood victims, which gives you the impression that he was driving through rivers. Actually it was just errands.

    And Audi is being dramatic in calling this guy out for doing something pretty mundane with a car that needs more publicity anyway. And that particular car is already a business write-off.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “And that particular car is already a business write-off.”

      Awesome! I’m waiting for the $80,000 discount.

      (rimshot)

    • 0 avatar
      SD 328I

      He isn’t being dramatic, I’ve seen all his videos since this came out, it’s him and the company he co-owns at Apex Racing that have been doing more than errands.

      I’m talking about 12 hour days knee high in mud emptying out muddy basements for senior citizens. Organizing hundreds of others to help, manpower, donations of equipment and money. Documenting and showing things the media has largely avoided.

      This guy has been busting his butt to help flood victims and bringing awareness to it. And it’s not like he was dragging Audi in the mud, he even apologizes in the video about it.

      Ford of Germany has already donated 50 vehicles to be used by volunteer teams (Misha has 3 of them now), with the stipulation they come back in 3 months, but they don’t care in what condition. Audi could have used this as great PR as well, but likely some marketing underling couldn’t read the room here.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Some ‘rescuers’ were just boating. Others just walked town around towns. They talked on phones, rode in aircraft.

      All drama queens.

  • avatar
    carguy949

    I agree that Audi missed a golden opportunity to show what their car can do. But worse still, their reaction suggests that they care more about a press car than they do about people. That’s a horrible message to send.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.

    He’ll get his publicity but lose his Audi tester privileges and life will go on. Had this stunt not been premeditated I think Audi would be more understanding.

    Nobody is wrong…just differing ideas of what acceptable is…and this guy seemed to value the potential monetization of his video over his testing obligations…

    The headline could just has easily have been “Audi RS6 Electronics get FRIED by a puddle”

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Somebody at Audi needs to get his head out of his nether region. At most, they should have told the journalist, “We wish you had asked us first but you have our blessing now. Just be careful and think before you act.” Instead, the fool turned good PR for Audi into a black mark on their name.

  • avatar
    brett

    During Harvey (massive flooding in Houston), I saw large construction equipment get “borrowed” to perform rescues. Nobody cared since it was the right thing to do.

    Audi dropped the ball on this one.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    I used to be an Audi man, but I find myself drifting away from the brand (and VWAG) due to their annoying virtue signaling in regards to electric vehicles, and in Audi’s case, their idiotic demands that employees now make use of this confusing and frankly stupid ‘gender language’, an issue which is being forced on us Germans by radical leftists, Greenies and socialist political parties.

    https://www.tellerreport.com/business/2021-03-02—-“audiers”–audi-employees-should-gender-in-the-future—.HJWyPBBiMd.html

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, as someone whose kid identifies as “they,” I say good on Audi for trying to make things gender-neutral.

      Just traded in an A3. Loved the car, but got tired of the mechanical issues. Great cars to lease, but don’t buy them used unless you’re prepared to shell out for maintenance and repairs.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        @FreedMike,

        The issue with gendering the complex German language is akin to rocket science. Do not ask me how it works since I do not follow this insanity. All I know is that they ruin certain words with a ‘gender star’ (*) and a ‘gender underline stroke’ (_). So if I want to call my sister, I would normally say ‘Schwester’. With the gender gaga insanity, I need to ‘gender’ the word; Schwester*in or Schwester_in. Why? I have no idea. My sister would be female, and not multi sexual or whatever this gender insanity is about.

        My last Audi experience was very good with my 2007 A4 Avant 2.0 TDI. I achieved an incredible 650,000 km. No serious reliability issues. Needed a new clutch at around 330,000 km, that was the only major overhaul the vehicle required. But nowadays I do not find the brand and its products attractive due to their constant EV-praise in the German media and their calls to tax us ICE-drivers even more with higher fuel prices. We already pay close to $8 per gallon here.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    This incident is really nothing new in our shared world. Just another file to be placed in the folder titled, “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”. Move along…

  • avatar

    That the wokeness in action for you: lot of anger with no compassion.

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