Auto company press conferences are usually pretty over-the-top affairs, and there's nothing wrong with that. They're supposed to be. At Jaguar's F-Type launch, there were freaking lasers and helicopters. Some even summon the dead. But they all at least are up front with what they're doing. Except VW.
At VW's press conference yesterday, for some reason they decided to couch the entire thing in the conceit of a fake CNN-style news broadcast. Like with an anchor and desk and chyron graphics and all that. And I have no idea why.
It felt like they were looking for some sort of justification for why they were up there talking about their cars, and the idea of news reporters interviewing various VW bigwigs was just the context they needed. Which might make sense if they weren't, you know, at the fucking Detroit Auto Show.
If there's one place where you probably don't need to find a way to justify talking about cars, it's at not just this auto show, but any auto show. Why didn't they get up there with their colossal video screens and lasers and smoke machines and acrobats or whatever and just talk about their cars? Why did they have to pretend we were all at home, in our massive living room with 400 of our closest friends, wasting time watching the one-subject-only news channel until that Game of Thrones rerun finally came on? The one where the dragons go nuts on that guy with the slaves?
The news-show format, which was done, even more weirdly, live, also forced the executives and engineers being interviewed (between "news stories" about how Mark Zuckerburg drives a manual GTI) into being a little more awkward and rushed than they normally would have been. When an executive talks about the Golf R having "80% fuel Efficiency on the car," you kind of long for a less structured format so you can find out just what the hell that's supposed to mean.
Then there were the people in the audience who started singing, seemingly at random, when the Dune concept was shown. After the news channel setup, this just felt awkward and a little embarrassing, though it did explain why the guy behind me had a guitar with him.
I love bonkers, way overdone press conferences, but, VW, as a friend, take my advice: lose this fake news show thing. It's like you're taking the concepts of creepy, overdone, and boring and making an entirely new sensation: Overcringennui, or something.
On second thought, congratulations, I guess.