The cigarette after ... well, anyway, the physical firehouse is there, but Chrysler will no longer be using that cavernous space across the street from Cobo Hall to host journalists in beer-hall high style, with executives drawing suds behind the bar, and wonderful wait staff wading through the ocean of reporters with trays of fish 'n' chips, sandwiches, waffle fries and the like.
Just as bad--well, almost--is that reporters will no longer have Chrysler's maximum press conference entertainment to anticipate with glee. Time was when one could usually count on the Auburn Hills company for dancing girls demonstrating Sto-n-Go seating, executives in a sit-com sketch--in drag, no less--or in biker gear rolling onstage astride a monstrous concept motorcycle. Those were the days.
Says spokesperson Rick Deneau on the Chrysler blog site (which, by the way, is called Firehouse.biz): "In the new reality, our press event this year will be more straightforward, reflecting our need to run more efficiently during a tough environment."
He says the company will not even have separate stands for its Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler brands, but will "Bring the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands together, reflecting the company's Project Genesis initiative for a tri-branded dealer network."
That means no more Jeep waterfall--which has been a staple of Jeep's auto show presence for as long as I can remember, although I only go back about 10 years, and provided a soothing counterpoint to the disco-ball electronica one endures while waiting for the wraps to get pulled off the latest set of wheels. And ditto the giant red Dodge Ram horns the size of the St. Louis Arch. Also, no more Chrysler ... well, actually I can't remember exactly what the Chrysler brand used to have to announce itself on the floor, which may say something about the brand's identity issues.
Also, no complimentary luncheons, per Deneau, which could spark a riot among reporters who typically get belligerent between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Scratch that. Between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. God help scribes if Chevrolet isn't serving hot dogs. But could this also mean no Dove bars at Chrysler? I need to know.
"Less glitz and no giveaways," says Deneau. "These are unfortunate but necessary steps to help return Chrysler to a solid footing."
I'm wondering what to expect from the others. What is Ford going to be serving for lunch, gefilte fish? What to expect for post-show relaxation, the Toyota cereal bar? Driver? Make a U-turn here.