Just in from an anonymous source…
I think C&D and R&T magazines have lost their direction. R&T has at least embraced the internet with their scans of the road tests, but both magazines test the same cars at the same time. Winding Road was lost on me, though it may have been the future, it wasn’t successful…at least in my mind. David E. gave it his best until they canned him. As for C&D, they went for a short time with a new graphic look that was TERRIBLE. It took them a couple of months to figure that out, but still the layout is absolutely a mess. R&T on the other hand does look fresh, but I think they are getting too “cutesy” on the writing style. Also, none of the magazines will pan a car (remember Aspen and Volare as Motor Trend’s Car(s) of the Year…….what a payoff….and I know the story behind it) as they only rank them among their peers. I understand this….but I’d like someone to step up to the bar on a pig and say it is a pig….not put lipstick on it.
CPI highlighted a number of challenges facing the Fab Four (above plus Automobile) in a blog post April 2008, and here we are in 2012 with their continuing eroding reader and advertising bases. What print-based editorial content could these mass market automotive titles possibly offer that might be sufficiently compelling to sustain a volume publishing model almost totally dependent on ad dollars? Five-buck subscription offers and costly photo shoots ain’t the path to break even let alone profitability. Yes, each title has a Web 1.5 site, but does it cater to a fan base more interested in watching than buying?
And maybe the time has come to hire Joe Q. Public as Reviewer At Large? Not elegant nor centralized but maybe that’s the whole point. Social media sites are increasingly enabling consumers as brand ambassadors letting the chips fall where they may. If the car sucks then no amount of ad dollars is gonna change the message.
Oh, and the notorious Car & Driver redesign of 2006? From C&D’s blog…
It’s probably fair to say that this magazine’s redesign in 2006 was not a complete success, in the way that the New Jersey docking of the Hindenburg was not entirely triumphant. That visual retool was all clumsy typefaces and cramped charts, and it made us look like a comic book rather than the world’s leading car magazine. Readers reacted vehemently, saying, for example, “You just did to Car and Driver what Chris Bangle did to BMW.” Our response was somewhat non-customer-oriented. “We paid big bucks for this redesign,” we wrote in our March 2007 letters column, “and we ain’t going back.
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