Shutterbug Shut Down the Hard Way
Last week in Detroit, an employee of a trucking company used his cell phone to snap 23 "spy" photos of a protototype version of the 2009 Corvette SS. It is a high-performance car that generates over 600 hp. Some folks know it better as the "Blue Devil," which is Duke University's nickname for its sports teams. GM boss Rick Wagoneer graduated from Duke.
The Blue Devil, which is certainly no secret among Corvette enthusiasts, was being flown to Germany by Lufthansa Airlines and the shutterbug truck driver worked for a sub contractor transporting the vehicle. So he whips out his phone, takes pictures of the car, uploads them to his computer, sends them to some automotive blogs and generates a couple of million dollars worth of publicity for the Corvette.
Actually, it was getting caught that put him in the headlines. The story was spammed all over the Internet and made it into the DETROIT NEWS. So, guess what happens? Instead of getting paid for this like a "publicity machine" should, he gets hassled by the police and loses his job. In the end, GM didn't have him arrested, but the trucking company handed him his walking papers. Then GM pressured the blogs to take the photos of the car off the Internet.
You, know, if the Corvette SS was really a big secret, I could see GM's response as a justified reaction to industrial espionage. But, let's face it, everyone knows the car is coming and they've already nicknamed it. This guy honestly did them a favor. A year from now, GM will be sending the press advance photos of the Blue Devil with some arbitrary embargo date and begging reporters to publicize the car. As I see it, they are way ahead of the game now. People are probably calling to place orders already.
Of course, this is only the view from here in "Gunner's Garage" and I admit I might be sniffing too many fumes while cleaning car parts late at night. So, what do you say?