No one seems to have gotten out of the Top Gear Cenotaph-gaffe unscathed. The presenters have been throttled into unreserved contrition. The BBC has been branded foolish for giving the go-ahead to the £100,000 stunt and Westminster council have been labelled naïve. The area’s commitment to low emissions also took a beating with the noxious fumes caused by Matt Le Blanc’s donut.
One party has emerged victorious. Brandished on the side of the now infamous mustang is the logo for the energy drink Monster, the sponsor of the Hoonigan rally team. A BBC spokesperson commented that it is usual for “such cars” to feature sponsor logos, Red Bull in Formula One being an obvious example. While this may make sense if Top gear were doing a feature on particular motors in the context of, say, the World Rally Championship it is not clear why they needed a branded vehicle for what was meant to be a frivolous set-piece. Even if fire hadn’t followed the Cenogaffe smoke the segment could not have gone out as it stands with such prominent logo placement.
As it happens the tomes of publicity generated by red top furore have given Monster incredible exposure. Only Tom Hiddleston dousing his naked torso in the energy drink could have topped this. Le Blanc’s mustang has appeared on the front of all the tabloids; the footage is being shared on social media like precious contraband. The stunt itself may have been far from Top Gear’s most outrageous efforts but the cache of having riled the red faced Generals and being pulled from the broadcast fits neatly with Monster’s rebellious image. This is the kind of publicity money can’t buy- and that the BBC can little afford.