In automotive journalism, we deal with embargoes on a regular basis. For the uninitiated, these are agreements between publications like Autoblog and manufacturers. While news embargoes (where pubs are provided with information and images and agree to hold until a predetermined date) are fairly common, today, we're focusing on drive embargoes. These are what we generally end up signing when we attend a vehicle launch. Generally, these are in the media's best interest. As drive programs are spread out over a week or two with multiple different "waves" of media, drive embargoes put the biggest and smallest publications on level footing when it comes to publishing reviews.

According to a report from Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe, Ferrari has taken its drive embargo for the LaFerrari hypercar a bit too far. See, initial reviews from the few publications that attended the drive event for the hybrid-powered monster can hit the newsstand or internet on April 30. Originally, syndicated stories – those sold by freelancers or publications to other outlets – couldn't be published until May 12. These syndicated reviews are big money for larger magazines and, in the case of freelance journalists, are a primary source of revenue. Inexplicably, though, Ferrari has pushed the syndication embargo back to May 26, which is bad news for everyone involved (aside from Ferrari).

This could have been nothing more than an annoyance. The stories would still get sold (although it might be for a bit less coin, considering the initial reviews will be nearly a month old) and you'll still be bombarded by reviews of the LaFerrari not once, but twice, just as Ferrari planned.

What's truly weird, though, is what Ferrari is doing to try and enforce its syndication embargo – the Scuderia is threatening to fine journalists 50,000 euro ($69,000 at today's rates) if their embargoed copy or images are published before May 26. Let's keep in mind, this isn't a leak of driving impressions – those are almost certainly going to be published at 12:01 AM on April 30 by every publication that attended the drive program – it's merely the secondary publication of an old review.

Not only is the reasoning for this absolutely bewildering – Ferrari doesn't seem to gain anything by limiting secondary publishing of LaFerrari reviews – but as Jalopnik's Matt Hardigree points out, it basically puts a price tag on breaking an embargo. Publications that aren't invited to drive the LaFerrari but can afford to pay the $69,000 fine have no reason to follow the embargo (they obviously weren't invited to drive the car, so why worry about angering Ferrari?).

Sutcliffe has a more concise breakdown of the entire affair over at Autocar. Have a look, and then head back here and let us know what you think.


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  • 45 Comments
      Lillee
      • 8 Months Ago
      Go on Autoblog, I dare ya. I double dare ya
      MiddleAmericaMS
      • 8 Months Ago
      Its a publicity stunt & its working giving them extra press for free. It also creates hype & exclusivity. And if they fine anyone, that would extend the stunt & make them some extra cash too. Its modern marketing, no different than Miley Cyress twerking & the press talking about it for weeks. Plus it doesn't cost them a dime. :(
      BryanGx
      • 8 Months Ago
      I read this twice but I still can't discern from the text above why a "drive embargo" really exists, or why it's such a big deal. Very unclear writing.
      RetrogradE
      • 8 Months Ago
      Good news, Mr. Turkus, you're not a journalist--you're a blogger. I want to know if Ferrari really used the word "embargo" because (colloquially) embargo is a trade-related term. Perhaps "gag order" would've worked better.
        Nick
        • 8 Months Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Get with the times, grandpa. Every journo is a blogger.
          RetrogradE
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Nick
          You got it, Sonny! If every "journo" is a blogger, our world is doomed. This means that kids who grew up texting will soon (maybe now) be writing every article in the world! Can you imagine? U want deets on da new 'vette? Jus 1 thing to now: vette gets em wet.
          westlake10
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Nick
          @ retrogradE I don't think I've heard the word "deets" since 2003. Don't worry though I'll be sure to stay off your lawn.
          westlake10
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Nick
          @ retrogradE I don't think I've heard the word "deets" since 2003. Don't worry though I'll be sure to stay off your lawn.
      Echelon Bob
      • 8 Months Ago
      I don't understand how Ferrari can enforce the fine. How can they collect it? The only thing they can do is sue... but for what? Breach of contract? The secondary publishers they are targeting don't have a contract with Ferrari, because they weren't even invited to drive.
      hondosan
      • 8 Months Ago
      i've been working in tech journalism a few years back and price tags on embargoes have been pretty common... i think the highest i have ever signed was about 500k euros for a tech preview of one of the biggest manufacturers on earth.... ten times than what people are complaining about right now. the companies are putting big marketing dollar in these products and they don't want journalists to meddle with their carefully planned media strategy. i've seen a few people break "free" embargoes.
      tbird57w
      • 8 Months Ago
      really? and i thought it was just a "coincidence" that all the auto rags review it in the same month! gorgeous car!
      ffelix422
      • 8 Months Ago
      Who-gives-a-rats-butt? Seriously! 1000 people died of starvation in Africa yesterday...
        RetrogradE
        • 8 Months Ago
        @ffelix422
        And you're posting here instead of using your resources to help 1,000 starving Africans. Solid work.
        Rick Miller
        • 8 Months Ago
        @ffelix422
        And Who-gives-a-rats-butt about 1000 dead africoons? If they run short we have plenty we can ship back over there.
          AP1_S2K
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Rick Miller
          RetrogradE's masterful response ruined by a hillbilly bigot.
      ChrisD
      • 8 Months Ago
      I say screw Ferrari, they are so full of themselves. Typical Italia! Only .0001 percent of people can afford one so for most of us they are irrelivent.
      PDKid
      • 8 Months Ago
      So....an attention-getting embargo, designed to pull power back from a small group and return that power to the manufacturer? Fighting a little too hard against capitalism? A few years ago, Lexus fought (and they brought their A-game) against speculators when introducing their LFA to market. They did so by seizing control of retail RDR's, allowing the car to be leased only, not sold outright. Thanks (I believe, to this stigma, which alienated specialty sellers) there are still about 8 built and unspoken for (one sits a few feet from my office)....just hanging out, waiting to find a home. And I must say, tho there are models that will take it down on-track - it is a fulfilling GT with aggressive style, and it deserves to be driven! I wonder what Ferrari is really trying to do here? Like Lexus, I don't think they are trying to increase their own revenue/income, but it seems like they're trying to hinder the likelihood that other entities will profit from them, second-hand. Anyway, to Ferrari: This is a little annoying, but why would any inspiring marque ever want to be annoying?
      viggen
      • 8 Months Ago
      Good for Ferrari. Let's face it, most journalists are unprincipled and can't be trusted to abide by the embargo.
      RGT881
      • 8 Months Ago
      May is a fantastic month for any exotic manufacturer to unveil a brand new product on a massive scale with everything that a potential customer needs to know, whether reviews, color options, pricing on options, comparison against the competition and so forth. This is due to weather, various motorsport, golfing and horse racing events, car clubs and such. So I understand Ferrari wanting to spread out the attention for LaFerrari as much as they can. They know they have a hit on their hands and they will do everything possible to milk it to every last drop of not just a potential deposit for LaFerrari, but generating interest in the brand itself whether its cars, amusement parks, or Ferrari gear.
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