LOS ANGELES — I have lamented on these pages about the decline and demise of the major international auto show.
But today, I have not come to bury auto shows — nor to praise them in the face of marketing metrics that miss the broader potential by focusing on "share of voice" — but to, well, argue that the evidence of the death of auto shows was not proved by last week's happenings in the City of Angels.
There's no doubt that the lineup of press conferences at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show was among the least impressive of a major show that I've seen in almost a quarter-century on the beat.
It was not a great sign that the most intrigue heading into the show was around what news would come from the Barbie — yes, Barbie, the doll — press conference. Turned out it was a life-size model of a toy car that Mattel wants to sell for Christmas season. And the lameness of that "news" could be seen as the evidence that epic global auto shows no longer are anything like a real thing.
It does sometimes feel like fate has schemed to finish off major shows once and for all. Detroit tried to organize a substitute for the North American International Auto Show — and possibly a new foundation for it — with the Motor Bella event in September, which is one of the area's best weather months. What happened? A massive storm pummeled the M1 Concourse grounds, hosing almost every last iota of Motor City optimism.