Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Left Out In the Cold: A Disappointing Finish In the Latest Kia Contest

Kia's all-new Soul EV and redesigned Sedona.
I'm not the kind of guy who makes a habit of dinning on sour grapes. I don't make a habit of it, but that doesn't mean it's completely out of my wheelhouse. I can be petty when circumstances warrant, shaking my raised fist and shouting complaints from my high horse. I refer here to the unconscionable results of the latest Kia media-event contest.

For readers not among my auto journalist homies, Kia always includes a competition of some type in each of its media launch events. Contests have included photos, coloring pictures and, on the recent event introducing media to the redesigned Sedona and all-new Soul EV in southern California, a contest for rewriting the lyrics to some California-centric song.

Engineered to add some fun and keep otherwise jaded journalists at least somewhat engaged, these challenges also spotlight Kia's audio partner harman/kardon – in this case its Infinity brand – that always supplies the prizes.

The photo of me as Matrix's Morpheus that garnered a 2nd Place award at the K900 event.
Over the years, I've had my fair share of victories. My two-person teams or I have been to the podium four times, finishing first once, second twice and third once. Including this most recent incident, my teams have also received two honorable mentions.

Although it's always gratifying to be recognized, receiving an honorable mention is like kissing your sister. 

On the podium with fellow winners at the K900 event.
Following the “there are no rules in a knife fight” model, these contests have evolved into creative donnybrooks in which the judges often proffer prizes to teams doing something outrageous rather than strictly meeting the stated goal. To be totally honest, teams are informed beforehand that cheating, lying, pandering and otherwise deviating from the rules are perfectly acceptable. I will mention here that all victories my teams achieved were the result of sticking mostly to the rules. I'm not opposed to coloring outside the lines, but just haven't done it for these competitions.

Because of the judges' loose interpretation of contest parameters, the stated goal is often a moving target. In this case, the competition morphed from the best lyrics to the most outrageous audio or video recording of a team performing rewritten lyrics.

I'm throwing a flag and calling, foul!

My driving partner Keith Griffin and I rewrote some of the lyrics to “Hotel California” by the Eagles. 

Yukking it up with my pal Don Felder.
A few years ago I had a conversation with Eagles Don Felder at a Hyundai media event. We spoke on a number of topics. It was during that conversation that I posed to him the question: If you could do it again, what changes would you make to the lyrics of “Hotel California?” He offered several. I incorporated a few into our Kia effort. So, really, the lyrics we submitted were the result of a partnership among Griffin, Felder and me. If that's cheating, then so be it.

Although a couple of the podium finishes of my various teams surprised me, I was very positive about our effort for the contest in which we finished first. Kia supplied each team with a booklet of stories in which several key words were missing. We (Ron Moorhead and I) were to pick one and fill in the blanks. My confidence level was high on that one.

Another contest in which I thought we would be in the money was the original Soul media launch in South Florida. Kia armed each team with a disposable camera and instructed us to shoot a photo of the Soul with a Florida theme. My partner and I scoured the Miami area in search of a Hooters restaurant. This was years ago before you could just say a destination into your smart phone and instantly receive directions. Hooters is a Florida chain founded in Clearwater. We found one, but it was located in a complex with a parking garage. We required a store with a traditional parking lot where we could pull the Soul in front of the building. After about 30 minutes, we located one. My driving partner (Tim Spell) and I went inside, spoke with the manager and returned to the car with three or four “Hooters girls” in tow. We draped them over the car and shot the photo.

I was convinced we had a winner. Silly me. We received my first honorable mention for that one. The winner, if I remember correctly, was a photo of a Soul with a beach umbrella sticking out of it. You've got to be kidding me.

I had the same positive feeling before winners were announced in the recent lyrics contest. I wasn't convinced we had necessarily the best lyrics, but I was sure we would at least place or show.

Those conceiving the contest, I think, believed teams would perform their lyrics at the awards ceremony the second night. There was a piano player standing by. I told the powers that be that I would not be singing mine. My singing voice is a stray-dog siren call. Besides, I had come down with a raging cold that very morning; just speaking was an effort. None of the actual winners had to perform live because they submitted recordings.

Looking back on it, though, I should have at least read the lyrics sort of like a coffee-house poem. These were important words that the world should hear!

Because our lyrics weren't heard, I am revealing them below. Here's why I think they were a contender: We managed to include a California reference once, “MPV” once, “Kia” twice, “Sedona” four times, “Infinity” once, “Dawn Geary” (Infinity's rep at the event and contest judge) once, and "Scott McKee" (Kia's honcho of media relations and contest judge) once, yet we still created poetry that would bring a tear to Bob Dylan's eye.

Here's the opening stanza and refrain as we rewrote it:

In a silver Sedona, motoring without a care
The freshly downsized Keith Griffin and Heaps without hair
Pointed at San Diego, not yet in sight
Griffin working the wheel with Heaps directing him
Both still woozy from last night.
The Sedona's cabin is roomy; it's big as Hell
The V6 is whisper quiet; the Infinity system clear as a bell
Dawn Geary swears it's nearly perfect in each and every way
We turned down the volume just in time to hear Scott McKee say,

Step on up to the MPV Sedona
It's a Kia, you see
Built with quality
Plenty of zoom in the Kia Sedona
It's a stunning find
that will blow your mind.”

Give me a moment: I'm misting up here. If that isn't a money finisher, I don't know what is.

So, here's what I propose: Those who received the all-new and yet-unreleased $300 Infinity One wireless portable speakers as a prize can step up and do the right thing: Fed Ex them to me. I'll make sure Griffin and Felder get theirs.

You can call me for the shipping address at 1-864-UPYOURS.

Have a nice day.

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