February 4, 2016
Low Slung asked an interesting (and timely) question: The sled industry is pretty unique in that the press gets to ride the sleds before its release to the public (Not the norm in the car industry,too many spy pics before hand). Does it worry you guys that someone may get a snapshot of the new iron before its released to the world?
I thought I would share my response on the subject of spy-shots and leaked information prior to a new product release.
First, the media must sign ‘non-disclosure’ agreements and abide by our embargo timing when we give them advanced information on new models. They need extra time to prepare their publications and web-sites to coincide with print schedules and embargo dates. They would be open to law-suits if there was an intentional leak (note: we have never had to exercise this option to the best of my recollection).
We have had to deal with ‘spy’ shots getting leaked from inside sources and there have been cases where people have lost their jobs over this depending on circumstances. When it does happen there are generally two internal camps that quickly form. One side will be all freaked out, in damage control mode, wanting to recall, blame and punish (possibly justifying their own position). The only thing more damaging than having something published to the internet you want kept secret, is trying to chase it down and remove it – doesn’t work so good!
I tend to sit on the other side where, if I see no harm done (based on timing and details) it is fun to observe and embrace the ton of excitement (not to mention the free advertising) that’s created as the pics go viral in the ‘hunger for info’ enthusiast sphere. The social aspect of the internet along with camera phones and portables really have had a profound impact on all of this.
Outside of the company lays a conspiracy group that rises up if there is any indication or conjecture the ‘leak’ was fabricated by a manufacturer to gain attention. We are not very good at that game-not at all. There are far to many politically correct people and processes inside of Yamaha for us to ever get consensus on breaking a rule. Instead we’ll hire an agency to produce a polished ‘teaser’ video ‘Hollywood style’ and proudly brand it Yamaha ‘revs your heart’, to get things buzzing. These clips are carefully designed not to ‘tip the wagon’ then approved by kings and council. I still chuckle when I see what some guys actually make of them – ‘I freeze framed the whole thing and found one millisecond of footage where, when I zoomed in 50x and applied an enhancing software program downloaded from a Russian hacker site, I was able to confirm by the heat signature it has three cylinders and the chase vehicle in the dusty distance was in fact a Gillette 1000…’ truly fascinating forensics.
The other source of leaks is far more nebulous. The old forum thread ‘I have a trusted friend in the industry and he told me…’ More often than not it’s bogus but there have been times when I read things containing details clearly originating from an ‘insider’. The best part of these ones is sitting back and watching the on-line banter as the ‘leak’ gets called ‘bull spit’ by other ‘seers’ or the comment gets hi-jacked then buried in a sheer flood of opinion. I watched one of these unfold over on TY, I was almost believing the guy was legit before he tripped. I have learned not to react too quickly to this type of leak but there are times when the message needs to be heard. I delivered a little sermon at our last field staff meeting after reading something which I was able to determine came from one of our staff. Didn’t single anyone out, instead reminded all that their closest friend who they completely trust and confide in also has a closest friend who they completely trust and that person ain’t you!. My old pal Greg Marier once said something to me in Japan years ago. ‘Chris – two of us can keep a secret – if one of us is dead!’ Fortunately we are both still kickin’ and Greg san, your secret is still safe with me 😉
Stay tuned, I feel a ‘leak’ coming on! (maybe it’s that damned old age thing) – ‘Depends’ 😉 cheers cr