I entered myself into a writing challenge.
Honda put the call out for people to review their own cars (in 200 words), and six finalists would be chosen to test drive the Honda Odyssey for a week.
Out of 2500 entries, I was one of the six finalists, which I was ecstatic about.
The car was delivered the next day and it was an absolute riot of a week. We had a GoPro camera fixed to the windscreen of the car and were required to film 70% of a list of activities - running supermarket errands, doing school drops offs, day trips, filling up with petrol - just the everyday excitement of life with kids!
After a week, we were required to write a review of the Odyssey (in 600 words). The winning review would win the car. No pressure! Many more hurdles to jump than simply filling out a raffle ticket but as it was skill-based it was much more up my alley.
It was quite a challenge to fit everything into the review - the features of the car, where we drove, what we loved and what we didn't and whether we would buy it ourselves. The aim was to obtain honest reviews from real people who drive every day and experience the challenges of loading hordes in and out.
The six reviews can be found here:
I edited and re-edited my review, putting it out to many friends and colleagues to read for opinions and feedback. It was tricky finding the balance between not sounding like a complete suck job, and offering a review that had integrity. With a $50,000 car as the dangling carrot, some people would be willing to write whatever the judges wanted to hear. That didn't sit comfortably with me. If I was reading an "honest" review I'd be extremely skeptical of one that offered a car equal to perfection.
When the reviews were published online, I was confident the playing field was pretty even. There was no standout review that you could unequivocally say - "they've won it". My heart did sink a little when I saw that 5 out of the 6 reviewers scored it 5/5. Me? I gave it 4.5/5 - assuming potential buyers would see right through a perfect grading.
Sadly, I wasn't the winner. In hindsight, I guess no marketing department is going to give a car away to the only person who didn't say it was perfect.
They chose a band member, who made the Odyssey sound cool. Pretty impressive achievement when you are referring to a people mover! A dorky mum of four was pushing the proverbial uphill when up against a rock star :) Congratulations to Louise and her family.
It was hard to come down from the imagery of me behind the wheel of the winning car. Honda chose to use some of my commentary in their print advertising which although a great ego boost and confirmation of my writing prowess, it was somewhat tainted by the fact I didn't win. I was a little confused about why they were keen to use my words yet give the car to another entrant but you never know where that may lead - perhaps I'll gain some additional writing work out of it. And I'll need a lot of it if I'm going to go and buy myself an Odyssey!