Newspaper reporters and product development spies aren't the only ones who go to auto show press conferences to learn things. Sometimes public relations staffers like to see how the other guy does it.
Anybody paying attention at this year's Detroit auto show got an eyeful.
After the Chrysler group unveiled the Dodge Challenger and Chrysler Imperial concept vehicles on Sunday, the usual mob of reporters converged on the information desk to grab press kits and a box with a souvenir orange stocking cap and brown scarf.
The boxes were plain, unmarked and not as spiffy or collectible as the Wheaties box -- with a picture of Bob Lutz and Bob Eaton -- that Chrysler gave away to introduce the Dodge Durango.
So why keep the box, right?
As they walked away from the Chrysler stand, reporters opened the box, stuffed the goodies into their bag then pitched the box on a nearby table. Since many reporters have a herd mentality, the table was soon covered with a mountain of discarded boxes that cascaded onto the floor.
A couple of Toyota pr guys took it all in.
Irv Miller, the communications honcho for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., told me he wished he had a camera.
No, not so he could get the goods on all the litterbugs.
Miller wants to show people in his organization that fancy packaging can be a waste of money. Sometimes, it pays to just give out the information.
At Toyota, they have a saying, genchi genbutsu, go there and see for yourself.
Miller was following that philosophy. He was observing first hand what people really do.
It's part of the Toyota Way.
We knew they did it with vehicles, which is why Toyota execs took their time getting into some segments, such as SUVs and full-sized pickups. So it makes sense they would do it with press conferences, too. In this case, eliminating the packages also eliminates the litter.
Now if they could only do something about the litterbugs.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]