Ford's Agency Tries to Lure Carscoop and Other Blogs into Writing about their Cars to Enter a Draw for a Media Test Drive…

In all the years I’ve been in the media business, I’ve seen and heard some really weird things but automakers and their marketing agencies never cease to amaze me with their ignorance and dubious promotion methods. Earlier today I received an email from a representative of the Social Media Group, an independent agency handling a Ford account.
In brief, the email stated that Ford is hosting the exclusive media event “2010 Model Year Drive” in Dearborn, on July 21st but since the number of people interested in attending the event are more than the available places, Ford decided to create a draw in which a winner will receive two all-expense paid tickets for the test drive event. And yes, there’s a catch…
To participate in the challenge, the Social Media Group representative told us that we’d have to create a post on Carscoop on the theme “Ford in 2010” and link it back to from “Opportunities with Ford – Ford in 2010 on Connect2Ford.com”. But wait, it gets even better. We are told that we can enter as many times as we like as the more posts linked back to Conect2Ford.com, the bigger our chances to win a place in Ford’s 2010 Model Year Drive event.
Now here’s my personal take on the matter. First of all, I really don’t care who sent the email, for me it wouldn’t have made any difference if it was signed by Ford’s CEO himself. The agency represents Ford – period.
And while I may understand the need to promote the company, there’s no way I can agree to these type of marketing methods even for casual blogs that rant on numerous subjects, let alone for a weblog that specializes on automobiles like Carscoop. We’ve received plenty of “regular” media invitations – even though for logistical reasons, we cannot attend many of them, but this is something entirely new, and not in a good way.
I’m guessing that the winner would probably have to state something in the article(s), but still, it’s unbelievable whichever way you see it – to take part in a media test drive you have to write about our cars and participate in a draw! Guess we’ll have to add this to our list of shame alongside the first test drives and first photos of vehicles that many automakers hand out to specific publications and websites well before the official release…
As one fellow blogger – journalist put it (yes the media test drive offer was sent to many sites,) “even if you won, you’d be the jackass of the event”.
Ethics aside, it’s clearly evident that these people are completely ignorant of the fact that (sure there are plenty of exceptions) the thin line between the so-called traditional media (magazines, news sites etc) and blogs is diminishing every day with both sides trying to incorporate elements from one another.
And if anything else, just because a site is labeled as a blog, it doesn’t mean that the writers (professionals or not) don’t respect their readership. Feel free to express your thoughts on the subject in the comment section below. By John Halas