So who broke Honda's embargo?

Though Honda did have an embargo on the release of the CR-V until September 1st, some have made the valid point that Motor Trend technically broke the embargo first when copies of its October 2006 issue featuring an article on the 2007 Honda CR-V hit mailboxes this past week. At that point, AutoWeek needed only to "bend the rules" in order to justify publishing photos and information on the web that had already reached the eyes of readers thanks to Motor Trend.
Motor Trend, however, didn't intentionally release its October issue early to get the scoop on the rest of us. The magazine likely has had Honda's press material in hand for weeks and weeks. It produced the October issue, which technically is supposed to be released on September 1st, and sent it out. Having worked for a print mag, I can tell you that once your issue has been sent out you have no control over when it arrives. Would Motor Trend have sent out its October issue early just to be the first with news of the new CR-V? Doubtful. We're sure the CR-V's nice and all, but it didn't even get a mention on MT's cover so why would the magazine advance its production schedule for it?

Also, MT didn't publish any material on the 2007 Acura MD-X, nor did any other outlet of which we're aware, yet AutoWeek published material on that vehicle, too. We're assuming that the MD-X was, indeed, part of Honda's embargo along with the new CR-V and Civic Si sedan. If so, while AutoWeek might be able to argue it wasn't the first (nor the third) to publish embargoed material on the new CR-V, it can't make the same argument for the new MDX. So what justification did AutoWeek have for breaking the embargo on the MD-X if it hadn't yet appeared anywhere else first?

We think there are two likely answers. I mentioned in our post on the new CR-V that I would find it hard to believe AutoWeek published the embargoed material without permission directly from Honda, and that's the first answer. Is it really so hard to believe that Honda gave the go-ahead to AutoWeek to open the floodgates? Automakers are getting so good at controlling the buzz surrounding their upcoming products that it just wouldn't surprise us that much.

The second answer is that AutoWeek believes it can get away with breaking Honda's embargo by nearly a week. It's broken embargos before, most recently with GM's new GMT900 pickups. AutoWeek released material on the new trucks a full day before the official launch was webcast by GM. AutoWeek is considered by many to be an institution of an automotive journalism, so perhaps it is the case that it can play by its own rules without fearing punishment from the automakers.

What remains a mystery is how Honda feels about all this. Is the automaker upset with AutoWeek? If so, is AutoWeek so big that it's above reprisal? Or will Honda keep quiet about the embargo bust because that's what it had planned all along?

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