So, I went to the Detroit Auto Show last night, which was awesome! The Auto Show is perhaps one of the coolest things about living near Detroit (and there’s not many), so I usually try to go during the two weeks its open to the public. I’m a big car enthusiast, and while that interest is 99% geared towards car manufactured pre-1970, that other 1% keeps me drooling over the chromiest, vroomist rides the big D has to offer. Now, when I walk into the show, the first thing on my mind is “Ok, where’s the Mustangs??” I usually make a beeline for the Ford setup, giggle and clap my hands over the Mustang concepts for awhile (alternating between criticizing the too-spartan interior or why this of that bit of chrome was moved or added), and then meander starry-eyed through the Wonderland of concepts that will never see the light of day.
However, the stars soon faded from my eyes as, instead of noticing the cars, I was noticing the conspicuously- placed attractive people that were posing as talking heads for the cars.
Now, these models (men and women, both) were of course pretty to look at, but lets just say they obviously weren’t selected for their automotive knowledge. Some were just rambling on, some were reading off cards. It was a disgrace, but most of the grunting masses didn’t really seem to notice. Which got me thinking: wouldn’t the real car enthusiasts (who, I expect are the only people who pay $12 to go in and look at cars) rather talk to an engineer, or behind-the scenes mechanic? Someone who knows the car back and forth, and can talk about it like it was his baby? Rather than some blonde, Double-D bobble head who’s only talking to you because she’s getting paid to? Furthermore, this trend seemed to be distinctly one of American and image-conscious high-end car makers. Ferrari, Lamborghini, but also Chrysler, and GM was the worst!
Now, I’m sure you’re all going to say I’m giving the average American car-lover too much credit. Indeed, we are all hard-wired to like a pretty face, nothing wrong with it at all. But at some level, you gotta just feel more than a tad manipulated that car manufacturers expect you to by into the “oh I wanna know more about this car cause there’s a pair of talking tits standing by it!” Not that this is any different than any other form of advertising. But I suppose 30-second ads I can tolerate, because really, how much can you really learn about a product in 30 seconds anyway? Might as well rely on cheap associations and feel-good crap. But at a car show, when i really DO want to talk to someone who’s knowledgeable (and longer than 30 sec), its irksome that those people are few and far between.