Midwest Journey Winner Declines Prize

Dodge JourneyWe finally heard from Dodge late Wednesday afternoon regarding the controversy surrounding the Midwest search in the Dodge Journey contest.  Well kinda.  Dodge didn’t really address the controversy itself; however, it announced that the winner has declined the Journey he found.  Dodge posted the following statement on its Facebook page:

“We’re blown away by the enthusiasm for the Dodge Journey ‘Search Engine For The Real World’ campaign both online and off. And we’ve worked very hard with our partners to make it challenging and fun.  The Midwest Journey winner has declined accepting the prize. Dodge is reviewing program rules and will provide updates soon.  In the meantime, we’re gearing up for the next search. The East Dodge Journey will go live at Noon EST this Saturday. We’ve worked very hard to ensure it will be as inspirational for everyone as the West and Midwest legs were.  Thank you for your comments and good luck to everyone.”

Dodge didn’t go into detail about why the winner declined, nor do I think it should have.  That’s the winner’s business.  Of course, the absence of a further explanation creates one of those communication vacuums I talked about in yesterday’s post.  The people who have been demanding answers about the search on the Dodge YouTube site and a Facebook site created just for that purpose will most likely view the lack of an explanation as proof that there was indeed a conspiracy and continue to speculate on what really happened and what should happen next.  (Don’t know about the “conspiracy”?  Read about it here.)  Speaking of Facebook, a new site popped up last night after the statement was released asking Dodge to redo the Oklahoma search (that seems to be the new topic of discussion on the Dodge YouTube and Facebook discussion boards).  Although the numbers of “likes” for the pages have been increasing, they are still in double digits; it will be interesting to see if the momentum, regardless of how small, continues.

From a public relations perspective, the statement included two important elements: rectifying behavior (Dodge is reviewing the rules and regulations) and diversion (on to the search in the East).  It failed to include one vital component, however — some sort of an apology, if only an apology for taking so long to respond to everyone who has been demanding answers all week. And, Dodge, here’s some free PR advice:  follow up on that statement about providing updates “soon.”  People will be watching.

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