THIS week I was mostly driving a billboard.
It all happened last Monday morning when I woke up and found I had turned into an ad, a motoring hack dressed up in a sandwich board and paraded around Dublin like some kind of mobile advertiser.
It wasn’t just a subtle kind of ad, I was like one of those chaps who drive around with the loudspeaker, telling everyone that the circus is in town.
And the circus was in town, only I would have a starring role, as the corporate clown who sold his red nose for a few cheap laughs.
The cheap laughs came from the hilarious marketing people in Mini who togged me out with a Mini Clubvan, decked in advertising and displayed through the medium of a fictional bun company.
I was expected to drive around with Mr Buns Bakery at the side and a garish bread basket bedecked on the back.
The point of the exercise seems to be to illustrate that you can brand your company on the side of your van, and needless to say the audience in the big top loved it, whooping and hollering like a crowd of yokels at a hog wrestle.
“Look at the clown, Pa, he’s being taken for a ride,” they would roar as I drove around the ring in my comedy car.
This was Mad Men meets Mad Man as the humble hack was reduced to the role of commercial lapdog dismissing all notions of objectivity and impartiality.
Seasoned motoring hacks will grimace at the notion that being a motor writer is wholly objective, when we drive free cars, go on fancy junkets and launches across the world, staying in the best hotels, and when we sup regularly from the corporate cup. But at the end of the day, we would all hope that the humble car correspondent, no matter what influence is tempted at our door, would be free to test drive a car rather than advertise it.
My dear wife did think it rather humorous that I had become the village baker, and of course had plenty to say about my buns.
And if you don’t take yourself too seriously, you’ve got to hand it to BMW/Mini for trying to get their tuppence worth for the amount of free cars they divvy out.
But it didn’t work with me, I took Mr Buns’ bandwagon and parked her away in the garage for the week not fully committing to the new norms that we are expected to adhere to.
Therefore I don’t have much to say about the Clubvan, except to say it is the coolest van on the road, or in this case – in the lock-up.
The Mini Cooper D Clubvan will cost you €20,800 and that doesn’t include the buns, they can be paid for with modest dollops of mild humiliation.