Wednesday, 11 April 2012

So Lotus Have Just Shot Themselves In The Foot

The Sniff Petrol guys are funny. Lotus aren't, as you'll see...
As you may have heard on the grapevine, Lotus are in a bit of a jam at the moment. According to various reputable sources, their Formula 1 team (the black one with Kimi Räikkönen in it) is no longer owned by them but is still called Lotus GP until 2017, the road car company is on the cusp of going into administration after Proton were bought out by DRB-HICOM - threatening their ownership of Lotus and thus Lotus's main funding - and CEO Dany Bahar, who plans to strip the Hethel-based car maker of its very character and turn it into just another fancy-badged prestige car 'brand', has allegedly been fired after officially going "on leave" in the last couple of days. The petals on Colin Chapman's Lotus flower are all falling off, it seems, but like many, many people, I still don't think that's enough reason to issue an official press release on Facebook (of all places) effectively trashing nay-sayers with something that reads like a ranting, well, blogger, actually. Well it's time to rant back at them!!

After someone at Lotus found the above image from British parody site (which is hilarious, by the way), they posted it on the manufacturer's official Facebook page - where fans and owners get all the latest news and such - and reacted to it.

You can read the whole thing here, but it's quite long, so I've picked out a few highlights:

"False rumour #1: Dany Bahar is no longer CEO of Group Lotus.
Fact: Rubbish – Dany Bahar still is.

False rumour #2: Dato' Sri Syed is no longer Managing Director of Proton.
Fact: Again rubbish. He still is.

You can thank good old Tony Fernandes for these two. Don't take everything he tweets too seriously – perhaps he's still frustrated about owning Caterham instead of Lotus and the fact that he fights HRT and Marussia instead of Mercedes and Ferrari in F1." - Really? We now have a car company who acts High-School-Bitchy? What kind of snide remark is that for an official statement? Only to be continued in the next little paragraph? Besides, you bought into Renault to get there, rather than build your team from scratch like Caterham (formerly green Lotus) did. Don't pretend it's the same.

The next paragraph reads: "And whilst we're on the subject of jokes - do you know the latest F1 joke? Mike Gascoyne, Caterham Group's Chief Technical Officer, has gone missing. Why? He's looking for the 30 to 40 points he predicted for the last F1 season. Funny." - Well, it's not that funny. Maybe it would be in a different context.

The official press release - which was also emailed to Lotus owners - goes on:

"Speaking of F1: It seems that one special so called ‘independent' source is at the root of the lion's share of damaging rumours and misleading stories. The delightful Joe Saward which leads us nicely to….

False rumour #3: Joe Saward is JUST an independent journalist.
Fact: He is an active Director on the Caterham Group Board.

And unlike some, we don't want to get too personal, so we'll leave it to you to judge how ‘independent' his stories about Lotus are." - Wait a minute, after singling out and shitting all over a popular F1 reporter, you don't want to get personal?! Are you even paying attention?

They then go on to explain that Group Lotus isn't actually out of Formula 1. They simply "reshaped their commercial relationship earlier this year" and are still allowed to brand everything related to the team as Lotus until 2017, including the team itself. I suppose that's what's actually important to Bahar-era Lotus anyway...

Also, well done for putting the churlish crap at the top and leaving the more formal and well-reasoned responses regarding F1 branding and company ownership until last. Then the Facebookers with short attention spans (read: all the Facebookers) only read down to the bits that shame you for being immature. Clever.

The statement opens with "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story". Well Lotus, the fact is that you've made this parody image into a good story for many an online news outlet. There's no such thing as bad press, right? Wrong, I'm afraid. Actually, I suspect the subsequent swarm of negative reactions [scroll past the statement in grey for reactions] from blogs and fans alike is exactly what bad press is. Well done. You've taken a bad situation and made it worse. How professional of you. Ever considered politics?

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