Media drives (or media test drives) are organized activities particularly done by car companies for certified members of the motoring media. Here, they are pitted in vehicles provided by manufacturers themselves for them to drive these vehicles from one specific place to another. It is for the sole purpose of these journalists to personally experience the vehicles themselves in real-world driving conditions and in turn, for them to write or narrate the experience through their various media outlets, whether they be in print, radio, television, or the digital world. In short, they become the eyes and ears of the motoring public on how a specific vehicle performs. In fact, it has been a proven practice by journalists not just here in the country but around the world.
Locally, it was started in 1995 by a group of renowned rally drivers to promote a car from an international car company. Dubbed as: “The Philippine-Malaysia Friendship Rally”, the activity was to be recognized as the very first media test drive activity organized in the country. It pitted journalists from Malaysia and the Philippines inside a Proton Wira, a Malaysian-produced vehicle, to serve as driver and navigator as they drove starting from EDSA all the way to Alaminos in Pangasinan.
“As far as I can remember, it was the first-ever media test drive activity here. Being the first, it had a lot of loopholes. But after that, car companies eventually learned and the following drives became smoother and more hassle-free,” shared Ron de los Reyes (yes, my dad) who has been covering the motoring beat for almost 30 years.
“For me, a media drive is a proven way to better test the car. Here, we get to personally drive it, how it performs in certain conditions, on the highway, off-road, or on wet roads. And being in a group, we get to compare notes. Or better yet, we get to learn and assess the various opinions of different journalists,” he continued.
“Also, it’s another way for car companies to promote their vehicles.”
I remember my very first media drive back then. Although I’ve already joined a few when I was just in high school as part of my dad’s crew, my official media drive (wherein I already had my own real media identification card) was in 2005 when I covered various events out of town for Isuzu Philippines Corporation. Back then, I was a working student in college, juggling both studies and my love for long drives as an official journalist for my dad’s show, as well as for a local tabloid.
My very first media drive
For almost two decades, I have been joining weekly media drives both here and abroad. I have been used to the back strain from sitting for hours driving non-stop, the little pasalubongs we get from the various local towns we visit, the little favorite creature comforts we cherish from the various vehicles, the countless stories from being a driver to a back-seat driver, interchangeably, so on and so forth.
Lately, particularly the past two years — however — it has been quite a different story.
Back on the road
Good thing, with now more relaxed restrictions and lesser Covid-19 cases, carmakers are slowly opening their doors to media drives once again. Recently, Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. had a memorable drive of its all-new HRV to Tagaytay and Batangas. This week, Chery Philippines is planning to bring the media to Subic, Zambales. And next week, another Japanese carmaker will treat them to fun and exciting drive to Batangas onboard their all-new Suzuki Celerio.
As long as we follow health and safety protocols, and everything runs smoothly in the days, or even weeks to come, I believe everything will go back to the way it used to be. This writer just can’t wait to be out there once again. Oh, the call of the clear, wide and open road beckons!