march 2008 newsletter

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MOTHERS: Polishes * Waxes * Cleaners

Polishes * Waxes * Cleaners

the road ahead

A team of Stanford University students built some 50 internet applications that garnered 20 million hits within 10 weeks.  Which led them to conclude "Mass Interpersonal Persuasion is finally here."  Shore Communications wrote,
“This is a very elegant way of saying that the ability of social media to enable peers to influence one another directly is outstripping rapidly the ability of traditional media to figure out how to inject persuasion messages from other sources into those conversations.”

As reported in Media Post, Nokia predicts, as a result of a global study into the future of entertainment, that by 2012 up to a quarter of the entertainment consumed by people will have been created, edited and shared within their peer circle rather than coming out of traditional media groups.  Other interesting trends noted in the study: Immersive Living that blurs the distinction of being on or offline; Geek Culture, apparently increased willingness to embrace technology in our quest for entertainment; G Tech: the feminization of technology (more democratic, collaborative, emotional and customized) and Localism, pride of place, home-grown content.

Jonah Bloom in Advertising Age wrote: “Yes, there'll continue to be a few mass-market appointment-TV shows -- their prices are rising as their numbers dwindle.  But for the majority of content creators, the picture will be the same one that's been developing for at least the past half century: more platforms, each reaching, on average, a smaller audience than the late, great broadcasters of pre-cable yore. . . .there is still a destination mentality, a feeling that ‘I'm going to get the audience to come to me.’  That'll have to change, because if you want real digital scale in the future, you'll have to go get it.”

Writing in Media Post’s Online Spin, Dave Morgan sees the future as “People Networks.  He says “First it was the pipe to access online services . . . . then it was building and owning the largest portals. . . amassing the most users in gateway pages.”  In his view it will soon be communicators reaching out to people who aggregate around shared needs or interests.  That, he says will be a good thing “because it is all about them not all about publishing pages.”

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine sees the future heading towards “Freeconomics.”  In a Nat Ives Advertising Age interview about Anderson’s forthcoming Wired article and book on the topic, three kinds of “free” are described.  The first is the familiar subsidized “free” Gillette razor paid for by the recurring purchase of the blades or media subsidized by advertising.  The second is where the cost goes closer and closer to nothing as in processing, bandwith and storage, i.e. Hotmail and Gmail.  The third is the gift economy: Craigs List, Wikipedia, the blogosphere where the currency is not money.  Rather it is reputation, attention and expression.  Anderson is quoted, "I'd like to think that getting more for less is empowering. As we shift from the currency being money to attention and reputation, in a sense, the field becomes a relatively level one.  We all have attention and respect we can offer. That's a far more democratic access to the marketplace. We all have attention that has some value.  As more and more becomes free, we're able to deploy that wherever for whatever."  And, Anderson notes, that leads to more niches of interest where the numbers are smaller but the interest is higher and thus more valuable to those who want to reach them.


the tom-tom

Autowriters.Com invites readers to submit their own Clog (Online Column). Your reward: a byline and an audience of your peers.  All submissions are acknowledged, queued and used at the editor’s discretion. 

Susan Frissell, Ph.D. publisher and editor of has written about cars professionally since the ‘80s. WWW began in 1989 as a 12-page newsletter about automobiles written for women before it morphed to online in 2001.  She penned a syndicated column, “Car Concerns”  has written for Chicago area dailies and weeklies as well as online auto sites. In her Tom-Tom she opts for excitement over conformity.

In a recent informal USA Today survey, 44 company leaders were asked “Is it a wise career move to show up at work in a car that’s nicer than the one your boss drives?”  Twenty-six of them said it was “OK” to drive wheels that are a cut above.  USA Today surveyors think these types are “freemarket disciples who allow underlings to buy what they want…even if they upstage the boss.”

Sue Frissell

The 18 who advised against driving better wheels than Mr. CEO thought it “signals irresponsibility and a lack of judgment.”  On the other hand, those who said they would encourage employees to buy cars out of their league did so because “expensive tastes and debt motivate.”  It shows they have goals and ambitions to aspire to, said those in favor.

The CEO’s interviewed, interestingly enough, are driving older cars.  For instance, a 12-year-old BMW, a 2006 BMW,  2002 Toyota, and 2005 Subaru Outback.  Further, a survey of C-level executives ( found that 5 percent are “a little ‘embarrassed’ because they drive the worst car in the lot.”

These guys, I know, must NOT be car buffs.  Clearly, they aren’t subject to the twitching and ants in the pants experienced by those of us who just have to have that new car.  Certified “car nuts,” my brother calls them. Of whom he is one!

For those working in the automotive industry, and just happen to be car nuts, this must be a difficult decision.  If it’s even thought about at all.  I do remember the comment made by a friend 10 years ago who was born and bred in Michigan: She would NEVER drive anything but a domestic car if she worked for one of the big three.  “Why if the UAW saw a ‘foreign’ car parked in the Chrysler lot, you’d be ostracized.”  That was then.

I understood the comment. I can remember driving my shiny new 1979 Ford Thunderbird to the public library where I worked while going to school. I felt a little self-conscious.  After all, I was working for minimum wage so surely, my co-workers must have thought it incongruous that I drove such an upscale car.

As for me, I’ve never owned a car I could afford; from my first paid-for-in-cash-all-but-$100 brand new 1972 Mercury Cougar, to the Infiniti J30T I had to have when it arrived in showrooms.  Cars have been my passion since I was a small child.  I leased the J30T making it a little more affordable; which was a lesson in itself.  The advertised price of $399/month wasn’t exactly that. Rather, when the necessary taxes were added on, my monthly payment turned into a whopping $450. Because I was still living at home, I was able to ride in style. The guilt pangs, however, were present.

I never considered any car other than the best looking, latest model available.  Because my Dad was a Ford man for years (and a certified car nut), my first few cars were Ford products: Three Mercury Cougars, two Ford Thunderbirds. But when the Dodge Stealth was introduced in 1991, all loyalties to Ford went out the window.

I thought I would dieeeeeeeee if I didn’t have a Stealth. I scraped together my pennies, traded in my beloved 1988 Ford Thunderbird Sport (with a mere 31,000 miles on the speedo, and only two payments away from ownership: Oh, why didn’t I keep that “T”?) I leased my first Dodge Stealth.  Glacier White with a red cloth interior.  The base model. That’s all I could afford even though I hungered for the Turbo.  When I see that car today-and there aren’t a lot of them around-I still covet it.

Then there was the Dodge Viper.  "Geez, oh man."  I spent hours doing the math. “Let’s see”, I told myself, “if I take out a home equity loan at $50,000 a pop, my monthly payments for the Viper would be…..”  It never happened.

There are many people, of course, who believe buying expensive cars is one of the worst investments you can make.  And although I’d have to agree with that, I always justified my dalliances by saying “well, it’s not drugs.”  We all have our oddities…weaknesses…preferences, whatever you want to call it. Cars just happen to be mine.  Expensive hobby? Yeh, but what hobby isn’t?

 Tom-Tom rants, raves, rambles and ruminations are volunteered and express the opinions of the writer.


road signs

The INL Digest reports that The British Journal of Photography issued a warning to photographers that Facebook claims a license over every image posted on it, the terms of which grant the site a world-wide license to use the pictures for any purpose. . . . Media Post report: about 68% of online shoppers read at least four reviews before making a purchase, according to data from joint research by PowerReviews and the e-tailing group.

Reporter Mary Ann Milbourne’s interview of her new boss, Terry Horne, revealed the new publisher of The Orange County (Calif.) Register is betting on free community newspapers, expanded Web offerings and a smaller Register newspaper to help the company weather falling ad revenue and declining circulation. “The three-pronged approach is an acknowledgment that the old newspaper business model – based on a one-size fits all newspaper – is no longer viable,” Horne said.

Martin Lindstrom reports in Ad Age’s Brand Flash, that "the era of 'five-dimensional' magazine advertising is upon us as a second generation of paper engineering,  sound-chip technology and aromatic printing techniques reach new levels of sophistication.  The result is full-page paper ads that unfold into intricate designs and movements at the while playing sounds and emitting smells.”

French researchers are concerned that consumer demand for hybrid cars, fueled by advertising and PR, is slowing down the development of genuinely sustainable green auto technologies. . . . The Wall Street Journal reports Toyota is taking a gamble on YouTube social network by sponsoring a campaign for its 2009 Corolla.  The gamble is the money required to build something of problematic interest to the niche market of YouTubers. . . . Fortune Magazine’s Richard Siklos described a new service, Associated Content (backed by Google) which pays small (really small) fees per blog but shares revenue from hits they get on web sites in the company’s network.


autowriters spotlight

Truth telling is a lonely pursuit and Robert Farago acknowledges without hesitation that The Truth About Cars blog he founded has estranged him from the automotive press, automobile manufacturers, advertisers and PR people.  The latter, he says, are on the “dark side” of the enterprise when it comes to informing the public about new vehicles.  “Truth,” of course, is on the light side.  For Farago the truth is not relative, situational or proximate with respect to cars and it is his calling to tell it as he sees it.

Robert Farago: The Truth About Cars He considers ostracism the price he pays for being faithful to his Quaker-instilled values and adhering to the higher professional standards inspired by Watergate during his formative years.  Or, conversely, it is a badge of authenticity. Obviously a car enthusiast – he began reporting on cars at age 16 for a radio station in his home town of Providence, RI, – but he believes that autowriters should be as objective in reporting on cars as other journalists should be when reporting on politics.  While not particularly forthcoming about the ensuing 32 years since his start in auto journalism, he allows that except for a stint with CNN it was mostly freelance even while earning enough credits to graduate Tufts - to his father’s surprise, he notes.  He spent four years in the United Kingdom and presumably worked there on the Piston Heads web site where TTAC was “a sub-set.”

The alleged co-opting of the automotive press, which is TTAC’s raison d’etre, is illustrated in Farago’s view by its “failure to chronicle Detroit’s decline, ignoring and sweeping it under the rug by toothless coverage of the industry.” Or the absence of any automotive magazine “not in bed with the car companies,” with the exception of Consumer Reports although that publication has been cultivating the industry lately by regular appearances before automotive press groups.

TTAC began, Farago says, “as an electronic vanity piece.  A place to have my say with no publisher in the way.”  Ordinarily, the hubris of grabbing the tiger of truth-telling by the tail with no honorable way to let go has the making of a tragedy.  In this case, the “Long Tail” of the Internet may have come to his rescue.

Starting with zero readers six years ago, TTAC now averages 20,000 unique visitors a day who on average spend four minutes on the site, opening at least three pages.  It also offers income for other writers. “I’d like it to be more but right now we offer $100 per article and $25 per blog post, usually a paragraph.” 

However, he cautions, “our job is not to sell cars.  We expose the truth (editors note: as they see it).  This enables consumers to form a judgement about how they (the cars reviewed) are going to do.”  It also means Farago and his writers seldom get press cars or go on press junkets.  They rely on dealers and other sources to find cars to drive and review.  When they do get a manufacturer‘s press car, in the interest of truth they acknowledge up front that the car being reviewed was loaned to them by someone with a vested interest in what is written.


pit notes

Reginald Abbiss’ congratulations on the quality of this newsletter are appreciated but praise is not necessary for Awcom to herald the U.S debut of his handsome new book: Rolls-Royce From the Inside, sub titled The Humor, The Myths, The Truths.  It took former Rolls-Royce PR chief Abbiss five years between voice –over assignments to chronicle not only, “would you believe these antics by rich eccentrics? . . . but also why the wheels came off . . . leading to the Teutonic fisticuffs.”

Michael Hollander, who founded the oldest online motor sports newswire service, The Motor Sports Forum, in 1979, reports that he is still posting to the site despite being disabled by mesothelioma since last December.  A cancer typically caused by exposure to asbestos that lies dormant for 20 to 50 years, Hollander’s was incurred while serving the U.S. Navy for eight years, including three tours to Viet Nam. He says his chemotherapy seems to be working.

The New England Motor Press Association has launched what, apparently, is a quarterly newsletter with a Winter edition. . . . Auto racing has come a long way since the days when “Little Joe” Weatherly would rent two sets of rooms for Daytona – one for partying the other for recuperating.  But it is hard to believe that it has come so far that the sport’s participants and fans have to meet "country club standards” in order to race.  Yet, in a missive entitled “PAHRUMP DUMPS US CHUMPS (ON OUR RUMPS)LeMons series czar Jay Lamm reports that Spring Mountain Motorsports Park abruptly canceled its scheduled LeMons race there because it was deemed, “not in line” with Spring Mountain’s “upmarket, exclusive country-club atmosphere.”

Lola, Porsche and now Monte Carlo have entered the fray with a claim by Chevrolet quoted by Jerry Garrett in a humorous New York Times piece about driving in a company-sponsored rally for the nameplate years ago:  “The Monte Carlo was discontinued last year, after accumulating more victories than any car in racing history, according to Chevrolet.”  In January, AWcom reported a PR agency claim, “Lola, the world leader in race car victories and championships.” Andy Schupak, disputed that on two counts, Porsche’s more than 23,000 recorded race car victories and Lola’s standing as a manufacturer. The agency did not respond to Schupak’s objections but Dan Carney did: “Your original assertion about Lola was correct.  Porsche may have more victories with cars that are raced, but Lola has more victories with race cars. The difference between the two categories is evident every time a prototype puts the class-leading 911 another lap down at Le Mans.”  Schupak responds: while expressing admiration for Lola’s racing heritage, “. . . . Lola has never built a complete race car – they are a chassis-maker only. . . .Porsche had won hundreds of races ten years before Lola even existed (1948 versus 1968)."  Carney agreed to disagree.  No doubt the Monte Carlo claim will be restricted to NASCAR, stock cars or some other qualification.

B.J. Killeen of Motor Mouth Productions passes along her enthusiasm for a relatively new, “cool website,”  She believes it will be the Facebook for car guys and has a virtual garage there where she can exchange photos, experiences, information and commentary with other enthusiasts. . . . Not to be out-done, Craig Pike says his My Ride Is Me web site is “My Space for gear heads”.  Members at their website can add pictures to their own custom garages, read blogs  or check out their growing picture gallery

The editor of Gulf and Main Magazine is looking for sites where she can download auto-related stories from time-to time. No mention of remuneration. Any suggestions?  AWcom would be interested in knowing about them: . . . is re-launching its web site as and is using an anonymous race car driver to provide reports from the “real edge” of today’s high-powered offerings. . . . The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), a national trade association representing over 20,000 quality used motor vehicle dealers in the United States, has partnered with www.AskPatty.Com, effective March 1, 2008.  AskPatty focuses on marketing methods to attract female customers and will become one of NIADA's Preferred Industry Educational Providers


Old Focals: Vintage & Contemporary Eyewear

Vintage & Contemporary Eyewear
 Old Town Pasadena, California     For Sales or Rentals Call   626.441.8205

lane changes

Brock Yates parted with The Truth About Cars after writing three columns for the anti-establishment blog aggregation.  No reason was offered although published comments by TTAC founder Robert Farago had nothing but praise for Yate’s knowledge and talent and wished him a speedy return to the Internet where bloggers speculated Yates may be headed to the aborning U.S. edition of the U.K.’s popular Top Gear TV show.

Greg Gatlin will leave his position as business editor at the Boston Herald in March. . . . Jeff Green is now officially the Detroit bureau chief for Bloomberg News . . . . The Denver Post no longer publishes its business news as a separate section.  Weekday business news is combined with the local news but the Sunday business section continues to be a separate section. . . . Jeff Holland has moved from GM’s West Coast PR staff to Suzuki’s as Senior Communications Manager. . . . Chuck Koch is MPG’s new paid Executive Director and Whitney Cline the organization’s new Office Administrator.  Koch has served on MPG boards and committees for more than 20 years. Cline helped with MPG office work from 2000 to 2002.

Tracy Powell reports Automobile Heritage Publishing & Communications (mother ship of Automobile Quarterly) just took over (in a friendly manner) Auto Events Magazine ( ). Powell will be managing editor for both AQ and AE.  Show-goers/writers/photogs are welcome to send him travel itineraries for 2008, as AE looks to cover as many shows, concourses and vintage racing events as possible.  He can be reached at:  . . . Jason Cammisa has moved from online editor to West Coast editor for Automobile Magazine and will relocate to the Bay Area.

The Detroit News has added a familiar Motor City name to its stable of monthly car culture columnists: Rex Roy, a freelancer writer for a number of online enthusiast outlets.  His late father founded Ross Roy Inc., one of the city’s legendary stand-alone, home grown ad agencies which was absorbed by a multi-national agency. . . . Brian Gluckman, account executive for Brandware Group Public Relations in Atlanta, has moved to manager of media relations at  His new contact is: . . . Michael LaFave, former editor of the defunct Driven is back as editor-in-chief of a less spicy Canadian men’s magazine, Sharp, that will contain auto related articles.  The first of five 2008 issues has a feature on hybrid SUVs.

REBOUNDS: Chasing email bounces has revealed updates to AWCom’s database that may or may not be news to others: the contact at Canadian Autoworld is Phillippe Crowe: crowe@wheelsTony Pallone is the specialty pubs editor at the Albany Times Union: apallone@timesunion.comKevin Bumgarner is the editor of the Dallas Business Journal: kbumgarner@bizjournals.comThe Texas City Sun became the Galveston County Daily News and the managing editor is Deane Gordon: deane.gordon@galvnews.comLaura Lane at Indiana’s Bloomington Herald Times has re-opened the email box for her “My Favorite Ride” column: The contact for Fleet Equipment is Eric Brothers:  Also at Babcox, Jason Stahl is the contact for Body Shop Business: jstahl@babcox.comRob Meszaros is the auto contact at The Bakersfield Californian: rmeszaros@bakersfield.comSourceinterlink’s auto pub staffers, with the exception of those at Automobile.Com and now have addresses.


talk back

It turns out that the late Roger Huntington was not the only car reviewer who never drove a car he wrote about, as Greg Rager noted in taking exception last month to a January item quoting auto writer Bernard Simon,  “it is impossible to review a car without driving it.” Simon, who writes on autos for the Financial Times in Toronto, reports, he too, has never driven a car due to a congenital eye defect.  He wrote the line to describe one argument for car makers providing their products for the press to review,  not to express his own view.  He writes, “Most auto-industry folks are gob smacked when they discover that I don’t drive.  But they are somewhat more understanding when I suggest that the views of passengers are surely not irrelevant in evaluating a vehicle, and that, as far as I know, the paper’s aerospace correspondent does not have a pilot’s license.”

Mac Demere writes, “Another Demere writer.  My 18-year-old daughter, Camille Demere, a freshman at Elon University, is now writing for Edmunds' Young Drivers section, in addition to writing for her school's newspaper and finding time to post things on Youtube.  Also, She's looking for a summer internship, ideally somewhere close to Greenville, SC. . . . Last month’s Tom-Tom by Tom Houston on Jason Vines getting out of the auto business brought this response from Jim Taylor, editor of the Mobile Air Conditioning Society’s Action Magazine, “Maybe, but maybe not.  Have you read the side of those American Lemans yellow Corvettes recently?”

Freelancer Maureen McDonald called AWCom’s attention to a New York Times piece on where freelance writing opportunities for business writers are posted from time to time.  AWcom is glad to post similar opportunities for auto journalists.

Jeff Zursch writes: “Anyone can drive across America... and never leave the sight of food, fuel, and comfortable lodging... forget the transcontinental donut run and consider a real automotive adventure, (the just completed) challenge of the Alcan 5000 Winter Rally, pushing our way north from Seattle through the Yukon until we ran out of road at Tuktoyaktuk, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.”  A freelancer, he is available to provide words and pictures from the just completed rally. He can be reached at

Steve Parker reports he has posted 60 photos from the “first ever Desert Classic Concurs D’Elegance," at Palm Springs, Calif. on



Jim TRAVERS, Jim TRAVERS, Jim TRAVERS, is the author of the entertaining and informative Extreme Cars  book from Harper Collins and the Smithsonian Institutions.  It is an easy-reading retrospective of a century plus of car culture. . . .  Dave (not Dan) Engelman moved from  PR on the Toyota account in Texas to Porsche PR in Atlanta, Ga. . . . and it is Josee Valcourt  who moved from the Detroit News  to the Wall Street Journal.


across the finish line

Phil Engledrum, colorful, self-styled “king of the one-shots," (the first on the news stands with a JFK special following Dallas, he claimed) died in January after 50 years as a photojournalist/publisher of mostly auto and gun magazines. The combination prompted a stab at a Mickey Spillane type novel but, he reported, his wife “wouldn’t type the kind of language his characters used.”

Stan Stephenson, former editor-in-chief of Motor Age magazine, died Feb. 8 of complications resulting from chemotherapy.  He was 77 years old.  A member of the Automotive Hall of Fame, he was instrumental in the creation of the National Institute for Automotive Excellence, now known as ASE.

Paul Frere, one-time European editor for Road & Track and the only fulltime journalist to win at LeMans and make it to the podium in a Grand Prix, died in February, two years after a serious road accident in Germany at age 89.

Long-standing IMPA member Charles Ofria, editor of, passed away Tuesday, February 26.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alice and Charles Ofria Memorial Fund at Pave The Way Foundation:


- 30-

Glenn F. Campbell

table of contents

Frank Washington Update

Joeclyn Allen of Onstar writes: Frank S. Washington Jr. is still recovering at his Detroit home from a mugging that required an induced coma and extensive surgery to repair but remains positive and in good spirits.

Friends and colleagues held a benefit recently at Seldom Blues Restaurant in Detroit to raise much-needed funds for Frank’s mounting medical bills.  The media, business and automotive community turned out in a great way to show their support for Frank and his family.  To honor his birth place of Louisiana, blues entertainer (and former journalist) Luther “Bad Man” Keith performed and guests were treated to a Cajun and Creole buffet.

While the benefit was a great success, Frank still faces additional medical procedures and therefore continuing medical expenses.  If you want to support Frank you can make donations to the following fund:

The Frank Washington Fund
Charter One Bank
C/o Angela Todd
633 Notre Dame St.
Grosse Pointe, MI. 48230
(313) 882-7697

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vehicle awards list

Car Awards Still Going and Growing

Philosopher George Santayana’s approach to art appreciation was once characterized as, “everybody has a mother somewhere.” The same could be said for cars and awards.

With the addition of the New England Motor Press Association’s six Winter Driving Awards, the inclusion of Auto Pacific’s 72 awards bestowed in three categories for 24 different vehicle classifications and the six Texas Auto Writers Spring Challenge winners in April, there appears to be more than enough to give every manufacturer something to brag about. So far a total of 184 awards to be won.
Below is a partial listing of awards. The full list will be available at our site next month.


























 *AWcom needs the results when available.

LA Automotive Open


The International Wheel Awards hosted by the Detroit Press Club Foundation is accepting entries until March 15 for this year’s competition in seven categories: Newspaper, Wire/News Service, General Interest Magazine/Special Interest Magazine, Internet, Photojournalism, Television and Radio.  It is open to all journalists, editors and producers.  For entry forms and further information go to, the Individual Communicators Network Web site at or contact Steve Purdy at 517-655-3591, email:






NEMPA's Annual Winter Driving Awards Dinner, Boston Globe


APA, Luncheon, SAE Detroit


MAMA Luncheon, Chevrolet


Deadline International Wheel Awards Entries


IMPA New York International Auto Show
Show Kickoff Breakfast, Chrysler


Deadline TAWA Spring Challenge Registration



TAWA Spring Challenge, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth



motoring press organizations

The 14 regional automotive press associations provide information and background not easily found elsewhere.
  If they are too distant to attend their meetings, belonging usually gives you access to transcripts or reports of these events and other benefits.


Automotive Press Association, Detroit - John Lippert,


International Motor Press Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President -,


Midwest Automotive Media Association, Chicago -


Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles -


New England Motor Press Association, Boston -


Northwest Automotive Press Association, Port Orchard, WA-


Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President- 


Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver -


Southern Automotive Media Association, Miami FL, Ron Beasley, President, <


Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC


Texas Auto Writers Association, Harold Gunn, 


Truck Writers of North America, Tom Kelley, Executive Director,


Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco  -, Ron Harrison


Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C., Kimatni Rawlins, President -

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