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Extravagance Made Way For Minimalism In Auto Shows

Back in the day, manufacturers would spend a colossal amount of money to amaze the public at auto shows around the world. However, today, their stands and stages aren’t as flamboyant and the special effects are modest at best.
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Credit FCA Canada

Back in the day, manufacturers would spend a colossal amount of money to amaze the public at auto shows around the world. However, today, their stands and stages aren’t as flamboyant and the special effects are modest at best.

Little by little in the past century, auto shows would grow in size and require ever-increasing budgets. The manufacturers’ kiosks got bigger and the décor would get more imposing as well. In the 1950s, General Motors even organised their Motorama expo that would travel around major U.S. cities in order to present the year’s new models. The public could admire production cars and concepts from Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Buick divisions. They even produced movies that can now be viewed on YouTube.

In the 1990s and 2000s, it’s notably in U.S. auto shows like Detroit that promotional efforts were multiplied to create a spectacle. Chrysler was hands-down the company that presented the most impressive unveilings: a Dodge Ram pickup was dropped from the ceiling on stage, a Jeep Grand Cherokee smashed through a glass window, and a Chrysler Aspen SUV even appeared on stage in the middle of an artificial blizzard.

However, all this extravagance came to a grinding halt at the end of the 2000s, as the automotive industry – and the North-American industry in particular – fell into a financial crisis. While GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, they settled for kiosks lined with industrial carpeting and a few signs.

Today, a tasteful balance has returned to auto shows. They now include attractive, but minimalist kiosks that can be reused in various cities. In addition, employees on the show floor are no longer simple models, but trained marketing representatives with digital tablets in hand that collect visitors’ opinions, tastes and – especially – contact information.

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