Facing the Media

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Have you seen the latest Ford commercials where buys face the media after purchasing a new car?

I don’t want to say Ford stole my idea, but I definitely had it first. Of course, I had a slightly different twist on it. Several years ago I wrote a consumer column for The Arizona Republic that talked about how people would make different decisions about how they purchased a car if they had to face the media afterwards.

Here’s that column:

Imagine for a moment that the next time you make a major purchase you’ll have to face the media immediately afterward.

Picture this, you’ve just signed the papers on that new car. The salesman shakes your hand, and then you’re ushered into the media center. Instead of reporters from ESPN, you’d have to face someone from the Wall Street Journal or Consumer Reports. They’d wait a moment for you to get a drink of Gatorade, and then the lights would come on and they’d start firing away.

“So what kind of prep did you do to get ready for today,” they’d ask from behind their microphones.

“Nothing really,” you might respond. “I just drove by and thought the blue car looked pretty.”

“Did you scout the competition?”

Uh… not really,” you’d mumble.

“Curt Schilling has notes on every batter he’s about to face, did you read up about the tactics the salesman might use?”

Suddenly you began to realize why Randy Johnson has that scowl in the SportsCenter highlights after he loses a game.

“Tell us about the negotiations?”

You brighten up for a moment, “I think they went well. I held my ground and even got some floor mats thrown in.”

“Did you get that in writing?” some smart alec cub reporter questions.

“Well no, but even if I didn’t I still got a great deal. The salesman says he’s never seen anyone get it for that close to MSRP. He claims I practically stole it.”

That’s when the jaded reporters would begin to roll their eyes. They’d say something about “not ready for the big leagues” under their breath and the questions would fade away. They’re already anxious for the next guy to come through the door.

Just a bizarre fantasy? Yes. But imagine how much different you’d handle that next purchase if you knew you were going to get peppered with lots of detailed questions as soon as it was over. If only to avoid embarrassment, you might do a little cramming before you hit the showroom. You’d check the prices of other homes in the neighborhood before you made an offer. You’d bring along a copy of consumer reports the next time you went shopping for a mattress.

It will never happen, of course. But next time you get ready to buy something big, ask yourself if you’re ready to face the media.

By the way, you can see Ford’s take on my great idea here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwKbItOQNKc

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