In the wake of the Coronavirus related cancellation of the Geneva Auto show, car manufactures were left with plans to launch cars, and no event. Audi went ahead with the launch the A3 Sportback and the E-Tron S Prototype but they did it via live stream. Like the length of the press conference it’s 10min but it’s not live. I’m now left wondering:
What should a digital car launch look like?
Car shows have been on the way out for a while. To me, they’re a symbol of the slow moving automotive industry sticking with a outdated model. If you’ve been to one on a press day you’ll know they’re mostly full of old entitled men screaming at each other to get out of the way.
My most popular piece from Geneva 2019 was “Are car shows dead?” Spoiler, I think so.
The biggest challenge of a digital car launch is they’re starting at a disadvantage they’re being modelled after something that I find extremely boring.
It’s always someone over excited about on stage. You don’t get to drive it, you just get to look at it. Maybe you’ll discuss the engine configurations. The big question these days is how many electric options they offer. If you’re one of those car websites you’ll obsess over the face of the car being amazing or the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen.
What is most puzzling is the press pool, it moves from press conference to press conference en mass and THEY ALL HAVE EMBARGOES! They’re all putting up articles as the car drives on stage, you’re missing shots of the car with a million people around them. TV stations, YouTubers, photographers and Instagrammers were already given time with the car to shoot high quality content without the massive crowds.
In terms of coverage, if you maintain the same model of embargoed previews, what are you really missing at the car show?
I had a big debate about attending Geneva, if VW didn’t ask me to be on their live stream and it wasn’t cheaper for me to fly back from Spain through Geneva then from Spain direct to Berlin, I too would have skipped it. The only reason I considered going was networking.
This is the true value of large conferences, it’s the ability to meet with many people in a short period of time.
What is next?
If you haven’t taken the time to watch Audi’s launch please do!
I’m not convinced the format that Audi tried is the right one. Admittedly, they had a few days to pull the whole thing together with the show getting cancelled so last minute. It checks all the boxes dramatic light show during the reveal, presenting the cars big selling features and talking about it like it’s most anticipated thing that’s ever happened in automotive.
Who can blame them? The goal is to sell cars and you do that by getting people pumped about your product.
If we’re going to replace car shows completely we’re going to have to use the full range of digital tools in our box. There are very few conferences that are still being planned over the next two months. So we’re going to see a lot of digital launches which might just be the best thing to happen to our planet in a long time!