Pit Notes 06.2008

There is very little that hasn’t been done before in autodom but Volkswagen may have been the first to stage a new model press launch on a college campus and ask journalism students there to participate in it.  Curious as to how an undergraduate might react to a full-blown press launch, AWCom asked the Dean of the University of Colorado School of Journalism at Boulder, Paul Voakes, to select a student to provide a brief impression of his/her Tiguan intro experience. Following is aspiring auto journalist Matt Wessels’ un-edited report:

“In late April Dean Paul Voakes walked into my journalism class at the University of Colorado and promptly announced that VW and Road and Track are offering us an opportunity of a lifetime.  My ears perked.  He spoke of testing a brand new vehicle and the opportunity to have our material published in arguably the most prestigious North American automotive magazine.  As soon as he said “test drive” he might as well have put a leash around my neck and drug me wherever he liked.  They educated us on automotive media, coverage and how reviewing cars isn’t just about thrashing a brand new vehicle.  Check.  They invited us to the pre-release dinner.  Great food, great company, great opportunity.  I must say, I had no idea a German car manufacturer could have this much fun!  Maybe it will be reflected in their car?!  After many briefings, presentations, education and the like our press day started.  We were given the same press release the professional journalists group received, including a full press packet, and the cars followed. VW assigned two students to a car and told us to stick to the route book.  And then they turned their eyes away.  No way!  So we drove and drove, had a couple of snacks on the way, and kept admiring the fact that VW actually trusted us with their cars.  The experience and business lunch half way through was well orchestrated and most delicious.  We all ended back up at CU with all cars intact, with fuel gauges showing the right amount of fuel.  VW, I definitely hope to work with you again in the future!”  In case they or others are interested, Wessels appended his email address: mattheus.wessels@colorado.edu

The online charity auction for Frank Washington had gathered $6500 by the May issue of this Newsletter and “taken on a life of its own,” Brenda Priddy reports. She also notes, “And people have been so generous: It’s not uncommon for a ‘winning bid’ to be $60 or $70, and yet the buyer sends in an even hundred! People who have donated items have also donated the shipping charges – which make the items even more appealing. It’s just been an amazing experience.”  This makes it easier for 100% of the proceeds to go to Washington, who is uninsured. Priddy says Jim Dunne has offered to share in the costs of the ongoing E-Bay auction.

Porsche, Lexus and Mercedes finished 1,2,3 in the Luxury Institute’s Luxury Brand Status Index, as reported by Media Post, June 2. The survey went to 1600 plus Americans with incomes averaging $349,000 and net worth averaging $3.7 million . . . Until gas prices drop well below $4.00 per gallon, even Corvette owners might find it better to skip this year’s annual “Drive Your Corvette to Work Day” scheduled for June 17.

Sardonic John Dinkel suggests that AWCOM might change its mission statement to: “Get the right info to the right people left writing about cars.”  Perhaps, but AWCom has a vetted list of 3000 persons in the U.S. and Canada who make all or part of their living writing about cars. . . . The Automotive Communications Council recently awarded $1,000 scholarship to two graduating high school seniors focusing on marketing, public relations, journalism, advertising or a related field within the aftermarket.  Attracting the best and brightest into the marketing and communications discipline of its industry is deemed increasingly important by ACC members.

White is still tops but blue is gaining in popularity, according to a special mid-year DuPont car color update (richard.a.straitman@usa.dupont.com). . . . Bridgestone has a teen video contest underway.  The contest will award three $5,000 college scholarships for the most compelling and effective videos that drive home life-saving messages on auto and tire safety.  Entries close June 24.  Rules and other information available at www.SafetyScholars.com . . . The General Motors 2009 Product Information Guide is now available.