Guest Content: Driven to Disagree

We are trying a new format where we will (with permission) include content from writers from other blogs. The first (of hopefully many posts) is from Miranda Lightstone-Styker on a recent lesson in “advertorial” car reviews and what can happen if you just don’t like the product you are reviewing:

By Miranda Lightstone-Styker

It’s not very often that I completely dislike a car. Usually I will find the positive in anything and everything – from cars to a meal. There has to be something good about it or it wouldn’t exist, right?

Car under cover

Well, sometimes it’s very hard to see the positive, and when you’re given a subjective task like reviewing a car it often becomes difficult to hold back when the car truly doesn’t live up to expectations. I know, I’ve battled with that before; I absolutely loathed the Ford Fusion when it first came out, and yet the rest of the auto industry fell in love. It received car of the year from AJAC and won numerous awards. I just didn’t see it. And I decided to say just that in my review. My article was rejected by a few major publications and eventually made it online on a smaller website that was free of advertisers. It was my first lesson in “advertorial” car reviews.

As I say, I’m not one to mince words. If I don’t like something about a car, I’m going to say it. But usually I’ll balance it out with something positive as well. As I said, you might not like the dressing on the salad, but you’ll pick around it and at least eat the tomatoes and the cucumbers because they’re fresh and crunchy, right?

So when a certain car company called me up to ask why I disliked their car so much, I was a bit taken aback. I know us journalists voice our opinions to a much wider audience than your neighbor when he’s bitching about the horrible service he received at McDonald’s, but it’s still an opinion.

I wasn’t sure if I should be ashamed and eject the feet from my mouth and say how much I really loved the car and only did it to get a rise out of the readers, or if I should stick by my opinion.

I chose to stick by my opinion.

He couldn’t understand how I disliked a car so much after it had received such praise from the auto industry, had won awards, was well-liked by every other auto journalist out there… and all I could say was, that’s great: I still don’t like it.

I was told to expect an email from his manager and he hoped to put me back on the test vehicle roster – I get to sit a timeout for my bad journalistic behavior.

And as I hung up the phone I couldn’t help but laugh; here I was being reprimanded for having an opinion in a world that’s so very opinionated that it’s hard to make a decision at all most of the time. Who knew I had such a strong influence on the buying market?

Watch out, I might hate your car next.

Drive on,
– M.

Read all of Miranda’s excellent posts on her blog at: Driving Ms. Miranda

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