Commentary: Debriefing #VOTY18

#VOTY18
Photo by Randy Stern

It was time to celebrate, so they made a cake.

I knew it was a silly way to reveal the #VOTY18 winner. But inspiration came with friends from my friends at Joey Nova’s in Tonka Bay.

The idea was that the staff at Joey Nova’s baked a cake that would look like the actual award itself. They have done this before – last year, for example. I appreciate Gary Ezell, Anna Ledstrom, and their wonderful staff – but, I’ll tell you, they do amazing things, as I/we do vice versa.

So…we did it. Josh Dvorak and I went live on Facebook, had their shift manager open up the cake box, and – poof – your winner of #VOTY18!

The cake was not a lie. As much as some folks would rather hope it was – it wasn’t. The Lexus LC coupe took the award by a margin of two votes. The second-place vehicle was the Ford Expedition, followed by the Volkswagen Jetta, Kia Stinger, and the Mazda6. The other three finalists were a bit of a distance away. That’s not to say that they did not get the support the Lexus and the Ford got. Erik Berger and Ryan Senensky of the MotorCult podcast wanted the Mazda6 to win. It was clear that a chunk of the voters either went elsewhere or did not listen to that episode.

The bottom line is this – the Lexus LC won on many different merits. It challenged the luxury grand touring coupe establishment by taking a concept and getting into production with nominal changes. It offered two different drivelines for drivers to get an experience that was either relaxed and/or exhilarating.

Perhaps one of the reasons the LC won was because of you. You loved this coupe and really got behind it because it offered a lot of excitement and prestige for its position among desirable automobiles. You engaged with the LC wherever it showed up at – a cars-and-coffee meet in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and a meet at a ski area in Bloomington, Minnesota. You were wowed – heck, some of you actually thought that this was the super-exotic and rare LFA. I’ll take that as a compliment – I guess…

How does one explain the Expedition’s reach within two votes of the #VOTY18 crown? One reason was the excitement at Dearborn seeing their large SUV being considered for this award – the second year in-a-row a Ford truck/SUV product made it to the #VOTY final vote. Another would be how consumers and Ford enthusiasts have something to get behind.

The Expedition’s rise to the #VOTY18 came right before the polls opened up. Every year, I convene a panel of independent media professionals and influencers. They really championed the Expedition since they felt that they represent something the consumer would desire for family transportation. It is a large SUV – the MAX model is about the size of a Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL.

This vote truly came down to a battle between the interest of consumers and enthusiasts. It also came down to brand loyalties. Some voters offered up some insight on why they voted the way they did. One couple discussed their votes over the phone before making their selection. They chose the Expedition because of the marked improvement this current one made over the previous model. They considered the Stinger, but the Expedition became their choice in the end.

All the shouting has died down. The party is over. A new editorial year has begun. The workflow has increased. Everything is fine here in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Yet, I feel blessed and honored to see this small web publication play in a large sandbox full of other influential, heavily-trafficked, and fiscally stronger outlets that you may be reading or viewing right now. To do the one thing that the big publications do is not just an act of David challenging Goliath. It is having the gumption to do so. #VOTY is indeed worth the effort on my and the V&R team’s part.

So, why still do it? Because it engages you in the process. You love winners. You love to see winners crowned. It’s very sound logic.

The process will be reviewed (again) for 2019. Still, #VOTY is what makes this website what it is – the gumption of a small media outlet to do big things.

Thank you for voting and participating in #VOTY18! On to 2019!

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