Sex appeal is used to sell cars in every country, but China has outdone the rest of the world with what they call "breast milk exhibitions," i.e. regular auto shows filled with topless and sometimes totally naked women.
For the past year, auto shows in China have become increasingly dominated by topless women showing off new cars like booth professionals taken to the extreme. The government isn't happy about the nudes, but their slap-on-the-wrist punishments have done little to get them off stage. Sex sells. It's hard to argue with that.
We imagined that Chinese carmakers and dealers would stop promoting their cars with ever-more-scantily-clad models in August 2011. That was when one Volkswagen dealer had its models in bikinis strip down to nothing and pose buck-naked by the new family sedans.
At the 2012 Beijing Auto Show, the Chinese government got pissed again, reported Car News China, probably because the topless models were getting more international media attention than the Chinese cars themselves. A popular Chinese daytime TV celebrity wandered around the show in a skimpy dress just to promote a website and the government issued a "serious reprimand" against the "vulgar publicity" at the show, which it denounced as "a breast exhibition with many famous cars."
The real humor is that none of the cars on display are famous at all. They're the same cheap-looking cars we're used to seeing from China, and the only reason why anyone is paying anything remotely close to attention to them is because of the naked breasts pressed up against their sheetmetal.
This isn't to say places like SEMA don't use women explicitly because of their sex appeal, but it's nothing on par with what we've seen coming from China.
The major Beijing show this year looked tame compared to September's Haikou Auto Show, where models stood in front of cars wearing sarongs below and nothing but body paint above. The show's organizers called it art. The Chinese government wasn't convinced and again issued stern warnings to little no effect.
Since the Haikou Auto Show, we have seen half-nudes selling Citroëns, children in bikinis, and pole dancers touting the Dongfeng Fengshen A60. You may have never heard of that utterly characterless last-generation Nissan clone were it not for the NSFW show on the same stage.
We should not forget the topless woman cavorting around with a snake and a crocodile to advertise the newest from Chang'an and Brilliance at November's Guiyang Auto Show, a "very local" show according to Car News China
Of course, using skin to sell the most mundane products imaginable is normal in China, where breasts come with displays at shopping malls, video game expos, weight-loss promotions, and even at a milk promo. There you could have seen "Miss Daisy Cow," reports Brand Channel.
With naked ladies successfully bringing attention to completely dull cars, and government reprimands having little to no bearing whatsoever, we expect to see more nudity from Chinese car shows, with ever-more skeevy presentations and ever-more present leering onlookers. If you're looking to sell a car in China, check your moral standards at the door.
(UPDATE: It appears, perhaps because of the traffic we've sent, some of these sites are temporarily down. If you're looking for the NSFW version of these photos there are links in Kinja, or here.)
(Hat tip to David!)