How To Dupe The Automotive Media

Earlier today, we found out the Porsche Cayman Shooting Brake was a hoax perpetrated by our buddy Jared Holstein from the-website-formerly-known-as-Top Gear USA. Here's the definitive walk-through of how he and a team of interns duped the automotive media.


We'll let Jared explain:

Why'd we do it? (Why the hell not?):

A) It's never been done before,
B) we love wagons, and
C) we wanted to see what we could accomplish with a high degree of sophistication but with only a conservative effort.

Jon, Matt, Chris and I are all car nuts, and we all feed off the buzz surrounding something we'd actually want— so we were all familiar with how it's fed to us, and Chris, being a young but but died-in-the-wool car guy, was a good BS meter.

Matt DuVall, a Digital Arts major at SCAD and a summer intern, found a pre-existing, free 3D Cayman model, downloaded it, and created the Shooting Brake/hatchback shape using the 3D animation software Maya. We were fastidious with the details: Porsche development wheels, license plate number, tape on the front headlights and a front bumper that mimicks the newest 2011 mule shots, etc. It's definitely a
polarizing design—Some people love it, some hate it, but we wanted it to feature enough cues from the Panamera's design vocabulary to pass as a potential Porsche product, so we did spend a good bit of time on that part. Ultimately, it was all rendered in HD— and then downgraded in size and quality to appear like it was shot with a cameraphone and output in FinalCut Pro. Ditto with the audio.

We shot the clip in a Brooklyn (Greenpoint) back-alley to stage the car being parked against the wall of a decaying industrial loading dock— I added the Italian soundtrack to give things an appropriate Euro twist. Matt shot HDR to get the reflections right on the car, which meant shooting 360-degrees with a still camera with a fish-eye lens mounted and stitching it all together in Photoshop.

There was also a little Easter egg that no one picked up on— there is a Stig helmet partially visible in the rear hatch at about the 9 second mark. Perhaps too hidden.

Once the car was created in 3D, it was easy to generate a fake screenshot from existing previews of Forza 3 (soon to be released by Xbox in Oct). Turn 10, Forza's developers, also happen to be releasing official screenshots on a regular basis, so it was easy enough to create a plausible shot and build off the buzz from the existing waves of fan frenzy.

Jon Masters, another summer intern who is finishing his Masters in Media Studies at The New School, produced the campaign seeding strategy— placing links to the video in Porsche enthusiast sites, tipping Autoblog, Jalopnik, etc. and inserting the Forza 3 screenshot in the requisite fan forums (original posted on a Czech Forza fansite, in Czech, to add a layer of deception and plausability).

The 3rd and final round of scam will be fully-rendered stills, with a fake "behind-the-scenes" shot from a supposed studio press shoot. These will hit the public in the next day or so, when they're done and good. [This was written before these shots were released]


Here's the full timeline of the scam:


8:29AM- Video/Blog Post goes live on
1:00PM- Story submitted by dummy to
1:15PM- Story submitted by dummy to
1:50PM- Thread submitted by dummy on Cayman chat forum
2:45PM- Thread submitted by dummy on Cayman chat forum
3:19PM- First reference (user comment) that questions video's authenticity (on TG US site)
3:30PM- Anonymous "tip" submitted to tip service
4:09PM- Email "tip" sent by dummy to (linked URL included is from a german car web aggregator that picked up story)
5:30PM- Story picked up by Jalopnik without being artificially tipped (We're just THAT good. —Ed.)
6:58PM- Story run by AutoBlog
7:56PM- Breaks on Car Lounge forum on Motive

5:00AM- Story hits TopGear UK site (staff uninformed of hoax)
9:10AM- Worldcarfans runs story (headline questions authenticity
10:06AM- Car and Driver runs blog story
2:26PM- Czech Forza fansite seeded from dummy account
3:30PM- XBox fansite seeded with Forza 3 thread
5:30PM- Forza Central fan site seeded, referencing Czech-based image


11:30PM- Jalopnik tipped by dummy account to link of Forza screenshot
12:30PM- Jalopnik runs story linking Forza screenshot to TopGear mule video


6:00PM- Autoblog runs Forza screenshot


11:30AM- Cayman studio photos uploaded to dummy flickr account


10:00AM- Jalopnik tipped with links to flickr account
11:00AM- Jalopnik runs story
3:00PM- tipped with flickr account
6:00PM- runs article


And here's a breakdown of the traffic that Top Gear netted from all this:

Stats: (In less than one week)
Over the 27,000 views of the video (in our TopGear vid-player)
Over 400 comments (net wide)
29,000+ views on Jalopnik alone

Mystery Cayman Mule (from 7/8 - 8/10):
- 37,098 total plays 24,006 from embedded player
13,092 from reg player

Video: 24,057 views, 52 comments
Screenshot: 13,626 views, 76 comments,
Photo: 15,076 views, 143 comments
video: 51 comments
screenshot: 38 comments
video: 22 comments
photo: 47 comments


Yet again, Jalopnik comes out on top. In, you know, excitement over a story even we said was probably fake.

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