Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chrysler's booth babe backlash - UPDATE

I decided to dig deeper into this story because a lot of really good people are losing a lot of work over this, and that's not cool. A commenter on my original piece said that a good friend of his was still on the Chrysler team from last year and obviously hadn't been laid off, and that got me thinking about exactly what sort of shenanigans were actually going on over there.

There are eight auto shows happening at once this weekend, and I happen to be working a regional one rather than a major. (There are almost 80 shows each season; obviously they are not all Detroit.) At this smaller regional show I noticed the women manning the booths were most certainly not the women in Detroit, most certainly not wearing silver Herve Leger bandage dresses and most certainly did know their shizz about their vehicles.

So I ventured over to ask a few questions, and this is the info straight from the horse's mouth, as it were...

A few product specialists from previous years were kept for one purpose and one purpose only: to fill in the gaps at tiny little regional shows held in cow barns where Italian fashion models don't care to venture. They have had maybe eleven days of work the entire auto show season. Meanwhile, the Italian fashion models are working all the medium- and major shows like Miami, LA, Detroit, Chicago, NYC and a bunch of others despite the fact that they don't know anything about the cars.

And the crazy thing is that last year's team was beautiful AND talented AND knew their product inside out. But Fiat decided if you're not taller than 5'9" you're outta there unless you want to work in places where consumers can see through marketing tricks designed to get their attention: small-town America where they value substance over style.

Seriously, when you're at the Chicago show in a couple of weeks go over there and ask something not in their very basic brochure. See what happens.

Joke's on Fiat, methinks. Of course, this is a company that thought an effective slogan would be "Cars you want to make out in." Does it come standard with the latest Sade CD and Bradley Cooper? Because as one of the 80% of women who help make all car-buying decisions in the US, those are pretty much the only things that could overcome this company's blatant pandering to the basest of penile instincts. (Also? Totally grammatically incorrect.)

That and giving my deserving friends their jobs back.

(BTW, I want to make clear that I don't begrudge the models working this year's shows their employment. This is a corporate decision they had nothing to do with. I'm sure they are very nice, lovely girls and are specifically told they don't have to know anything about the cars - that isn't their fault. This is an issue with the poor marketing decisions made by Fiat.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cobo Fire update: Audi vs Union

Oh kids, I couldn't make this shizz up if I tried.

A little birdie told me the following...

When Audi's light set went up in flames causing the Great Detroit Fire of 2010, Audi staff on hand acted quickly to grab keys and move vehicles out of the way so A) fire personnel could easily extinguish the fire and B) the cars wouldn't be totally ruined.

Guess who got all up in arms about that?

The union.

Yup. Strict rules on who can do what in auto show land, in union cities at least. Never mind that it was a dire emergency situation.

Never mind that it took one booth literally 28 hours to get their brochures restocked according to union rules during busy show days when consumers were thirsty for info.

If Audi had waited around for a union guy to get there, the cars would have been completely destroyed and Richard Simmons would be wearing long pants sweatin' to the oldies with Satan.

Another display waited around for eight hours for a union electrician to show up, and all that needed to be done was have three wires unplugged from the wall. Yes, that is in fact a job a four-year-old can do.

I don't know what the repercussions were to Audi, if there were any fines levied, etc.  But frankly, this kind of thing does nothing but give European manufacturers more reason to stay away from NAIAS. (And the Chicago show, and NY...)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Respect the ring

During your foray through the auto show (or your Google search for "Hot auto show chicks") you might notice that quite a few women are wearing wedding rings. Surprise! Some of us are married ladies!

Or not.

Some of us are married, yes, but some of us wear what we call our "man-deflectors." Also known as "fly swatters" these faux wedding sets are meant to dissuade invitations to dinner/drinks/your hotel room. (It's not just models who do this, by the way. Many women pull this trick when they just don't feel like being bothered at work, dinner or a bar.)

Wearing a man-deflector is really a win-win situation. We are both spared the discomfort and embarrassment of rejection. Do you like being rejected by a beautiful woman? I doubt it. We don't really relish doing the rejecting, either. I don't think most people enjoy making others feel bad if they can help it, and no matter how gently put, rejection feels bad.

Don't take the man-deflector thing personally. When we put it on, it means we're not in the mood to entertain offers from anybody, no matter how exceptional of a human being you may be.

Of course, a wedding ring, real or not, does nothing to deter the real creeps who don't care one way or another and will hit on you come hell, high water, or well-placed subtle symbol.

The point here? If you see a wedding ring, please back off. Real or not, it translates to "No."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On the subject of my identity

Just a heads up, I will be deleting any comments that attempt to guess my identity. Why? When and if I "come out" is up to me, not you. Also, people have been naming names (all incorrect, by the way) and those at whom the finger has been wrongly pointed don't need to be hassled about it.

This is not something I will address again.

So, if you've taken a guess at who I am here and your comment is missing, that's why. And for the record, NO ONE has guessed correctly.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chrysler's booth babe backlash

While walking around Cobo Hall on the first public day of the Detroit Auto Show last week, I did a double take when I saw the Fiat Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep team. Stunning? Yes. Gorgeous? Yes. Amazing dresses? Yes.

Making my life incredibly fcuking difficult? Yes.

I came across one beautiful blond wearing a silver, low-cut Herve Leger bandage dress like a second skin. Total knockout. Totally taking our job back to 1962.

Of course I do not begrudge these women for being beautiful; we're all models here after all and must meet at least a minimum level of attractiveness. I was truly surprised to see her dressed the way she was on a public day; outfits like that are usually reserved for press and preview - cocktail wear, if you will. What really bugged me was that after I chatted with her for a bit, it became obvious that she was not there to talk about the car and was merely there as a photo op. And then my head exploded.

I did see a bevy of Italian fashion models milling about in business suits, so I figured they were the product specialists and had the info. I was wrong. I asked around a bit here and there and here's what I was told about the Fiat sitch...

Last year's Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep team was canned. Even the stunningly gorgeous ones. All of the incredibly knowledgeable ones. Each and every talented and experienced presenter now out of a job.

Fiat, being a European company, wanted a European feeling to their displays so they replaced the team with pure eye candy. Problem is, this isn't Europe. Here in the good ol' USA women buy 60% of new cars and 80% of us are involved, singly or jointly, in making car buying decisions. And while we like talking with attractive people (human nature being what it is) we're not all that interested in taking photos with beautifully coiffed, designer-clad LA models.

So anyway, last year's awesome team was replaced with these new European-esque babes, and that would have been fine, I suppose, if they had been equally qualified and trained because hey, sometimes you just need to shake things up a little, right?

But that's not exactly what happened. My source says the even the business suited brunettes don't know their cars and their presentations were mediocre at best. Source said that it was obvious they had little public speaking experience.

(I also don't understand why they would let the talents of Nicole, the blond in this video, go to waste - she says she was a Porsche product specialist last year and those girls knew their shizz. This year Fiat has her posing - nothing more.)

So how exactly does this fcuk up my entire world, you ask? Goody, let me explain it to you. Women like Margery Krevsky have worked long and hard for many, many years to create an environment in which men (most of you, anyway) and women (pretty much all of you now) actually trust a good looking woman to tell you about your favorite cars. When you have a bunch of scantily-clad, uninformed and inexperienced models in the same position as the rest of us product specialists, it eats away at that trust.

Plus, y'all try to grab my ass and put a telephoto lens on my boobs a lot more when there are babes in mini dresses nearby.

Anyway, Chrysler must have heard the rumblings because by the last weekend of the show the silver mini dresses were gone and replaced with capri pants and sleeveless white blouses.



This is, of course, merely a Band-Aid. Hopefully they will throw a product handbook at them in time for the next show. There's absolutely no reason why Fiat's crew can't retain their absolute gorgeousness, know their product inside out and give compelling presentations at the same time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Burning up for your love

Photo courtesy Kristyn Burtt, another fabulous product specialist. Don't bother asking her who I am; she doesn't know. We're Twitter friends.

I know you guys think we're hot, but this is ridiculous.

A big ol' electrical fire in the Audi display shut down the Detroit Auto Show for several hours today. During our breaks we like to have sex, smoke cigarettes and blow lines in the back seats of expensive cars, and today it just got a little out of hand.

Just kidding! The truth is much less scintillating. Audi imports their lighting from Germany, so they of course need electrical adapters. One of those adapters had an issue and caused the fire. Negligence or just a fluke worn out adapter is not something I am qualified to comment on.

As usual when something of this happens, the entire thing was a huge clusterfcuk and I learned more, faster from Twitter than anywhere else. In fact, I was giving my supervisor official Twitter updates from NAIASDetroit because no one from the show office was passing the info along in person.

I did some sniffing around and from everything I'm hearing and personally experienced, the way this situation was handled was appalling. Despite the fact that there were visible flames in the ceiling above Audi and thick black smoke throughout the hall, not a single fire alarm went off, nor were any emergency lights activated.

What's the opposite of urgent? Lackadaisical? Because that's the kind of announcement that was made to evacuate the hall, and it was not backed up by anyone from their crack security team ushering people out. In fact, people were still milling around inside the hall poking around in vehicles a good half hour after the initial announcement. Instead of being led to nearest exits, people were told to go back to the lobby, which meant everyone marched straight towards the fire and smoke.

And get this: even after the announcement was made to evacuate they kept selling tickets! One man bought his ticket and walked over to the entrance less than 20 feet away, where he was told he could not enter because of the fire. The ticket office refused to refund his money, despite the fact that they knew no one would be allowed in and they didn't tell anyone purchasing. This man took it upon himself to go down the line and tell people themselves.

When we product specialists came back to the hall, some of us were allowed inside and some of us weren't - again, no rhyme or reason to that. Upon entering the hall it was obvious that this show should have closed for the night. The stench of acrid smoke permeated the building, despite the fact that they had all the doors along the back of the building wide open (on a freezing day).

I overheard several police officers saying they couldn't believed the show reopened. Displays close to Audi were covered in ash. The detailers did their best, but some places just couldn't be reached. The vehicles at Audi seemed to be fine, but the set had absolutely no lighting and it looked pretty dangerous over there. They let people in anyway. They could have at least turned the headlights on!

A source told me that while the show office claims the fire marshall measured the air quality, this did not actually happen. I believe him. My nose and eyes are stinging, my hair and clothes reek, and people I spoke with who work nearby the Audi display complained of respiratory discomfort.

It seems pretty obvious to me even from the ticket office incident alone that NAIAS officials decided they couldn't afford to close for the day, and that took precedence over public health. Their plan backfired. Although it was pretty busy for an hour or so after reopening because of the people who waited around from earlier, the place cleared out by 7:30. Probably because no one wanted to get black lung disease.

NAIAS Flash mob

How fun is this? What a great idea for a great event. If this was done daily on public days it wouldn't be nearly as effective, but it just adds to the party of Charity Night. Love the gray-haireds boogeying along. Well done!
(Found via NAIASDetroit Twitter feed)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

People are gross and disgusting

When I worked in corporate hell, one of my biggest gross-outs was when disgusting coworkers would clip their nails at their desks. What the hell is that about? Do you not have a freaking bathroom at home? When I quit and joined the circus I thought I'd be rid of such grodiness for good.

I was wrong.

Another booth babe relayed the following incident:

She was standing at her post behind her information desk when she heard the tell-tale clip-clip-clip sound. She rounded the corner to look where the display's seating area was and found a man. With his shoes and socks off. Clipping his toenails in the middle of the auto show.

Are you f-ing kidding me right now????

People are so god damned disgusting. If I had found him I would have had security throw his ass out of there for being a public health hazard.

Here's a checklist of things you should accomplish before you leave the house to visit me at the auto show:

1. Shower. Take extra care to scrub your armpits and butt crack.

2. Put on three times as much deodorant as you think you need. Skip the half bottle of cheap Wal-Mart perfume you regularly douse yourself with.

3. Brush and floss your teeth, for chrissake. Invest in some Crest Whitestrips while you're at it. They're only $30, easily affordable if you quit your vile cigarette/chewing tobacco habit that's making your mouth look like a bowl of Niblets.

4. Cut your freaking fingernails and toenails in your own bathroom.

5. Put on clean clothes that do not smell like pee.

6. Make sure you dress like a normal human being, otherwise I will take your picture and post it here so the world can see you obviously don't have a mirror at home and maybe start a collection to buy one for you. I consider this a public service.

I know six things might seem like a lot, but I promise you your auto show experience, sex life and job prospects will all improve. Stop being a smelly gross loser.

Monday, January 18, 2010

DYCWTC featured on Jalopnik!

Lots of new readers today from my feature on Jalopnik! Welcome! If you haven't read it yet, you can check it out here.

There's some great sociological debates going on in the comments section. The amount of men who seem to think it's okay to be shitty to a woman because she's wearing a short skirt is truly shocking. (For the record I wear a business suit yet still had someone grab my ass today, not that it should make a difference.)

I love the comments that I'm a fake. Guys, you can't make this stuff up. This blog is just at the beginning and there are some wild stories to be told. Someone who has never worked in this field could never come up with these things, trust me.

I would just like to reiterate that MOST auto show visitors are lovely. They are respectful, friendly and help make this job a wonderful experience. The ones that aren't are indicative of a bigger societal issue. They aren't just pervy at the auto show, they obviously carry that perviness around constantly and let it out as they feel the situation warrants. They aren't just rude at the auto show, they are rude to everyone they come across whom they feel are somehow lesser than they. They aren't just bad parents at the auto show, they always let their children run around unsupervised in crowds large and small. This is merely my small attempt to call them out on that behavior (male and female offenders) and spark a discussion on  why we as a society allow them to get away with it.

Much more to come. I do hope you'll keep reading!

FOX reporter shut down by Chrysler girl

EDITED 1/20/10: It appears that Barrett has pulled the video, not anticipating it would bring such attention. You can read his own blog post about it here. Lauren, the model in question, has chimed in to the conversation in his comment section.

FOX Toledo reporter Barrett Andrews thought he could be sly by slipping a come-on into his chat with a lovely auto show model who kindly humored him by granting an interview request.

We don't have to do that, by the way. We are under no obligation to give recorded interviews if we are uncomfortable doing so. Lauren very kindly played along with his seemingly innocent line of questioning, even mentioning the tired "Do you come with the car?" line. It was a cute interview, a run-of-the-mill human interest piece that would have been quickly forgotten in the news of the day if Barrett hadn't set himself up for a fall.

I LOVE how she doesn't even dignify him with a response. She does what all good auto show models do: simply rolls her eyes, turns on her heel and walks away. We have no time for this nonsense.

Joking or no, for him to do that on-camera, while both of them are working by the way, is even tackier and for that his rejection is even more richly deserved.

Edited to add: And also? Autoblog just picked this up and gave me a great shout-out. Thanks so much, guys!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stupid auto show quotes

First public day of the NAIAS - the biggie, the Detroit Auto Show. Today's winner of the stupidest question award goes to the gentleman who asked:

"Is this price in American dollars?"

I don't know why exactly he could have possibly thought it was in any other form of currency. I really spent a few minutes afterwards racking my brain, trying to figure out why he could have possibly thought our prices would have been in anything BUT America dollars.

I came up with a few possibilities:
A) He had a Russian accent, and it is cold in Detroit, so maybe he forgot where he was and became confused about the whole rubles/dollars thing.

B) Cobo Hall is right across the river from Canada, so maybe he thought due to proximity we might quote prices in Canadian dollars.

C) He's a dumbass.

I'm going with C.

Stay tuned for more stupid auto show quotes as the week progresses!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Unnecessary Truck

I have a lot of pet peeves in this world, both on and off the auto show floor. One of my biggest is the Unnecessary Truck.

The Unnecessary Truck is simply one bought for no other purpose than to make its owner feel tough and manly (that goes for female owners, too). The Unnecessary Truck has no practical purpose, like hauling lumber, towing a boat, or bringing dirt bikes back and forth to the track.

Instead, the Unnecessary Truck spends it days hauling nothing more than a huge ego around town, burning a ridiculous amount of fuel for a single passenger and being parked like its owner is blind.

Seriously, yesterday in the parking lot of my gym there was the most ridiculous Unnecessary Truck situation I've ever seen. One truck was pulled forward about a third of the way into the space in front of it, I assume so the bed wouldn't be sticking out into the lane. The second truck parked nose-to-nose with the first, resulting in its bed blocking the entire other lane due to the length of the bed and the fact that the first truck was taking up a third of the spot.

Do you really need a 19-foot pickup truck to carry your fat ass and a gym bag? I don't think so.

In fact, I am quite sure that a good 80% of non-professionals (anyone other than contractors, plumbers, masochists who like to help friends move every weekend, etc) who drive a pickup could actually do just fine in a Mini Cooper. Yeah, I said it. Your Unnecessary Truck should be traded in for a Mini Cooper.

Maybe then you'd learn how to park.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


You'd think that grandpas are the least of our worries over here in auto show land, right? That we'd be relieved when we see a sweet, doddering older gentleman heading our way, ostensibly to discuss the finer points of our latest giant sedan that he'll probably wind up mowing down a crowd with because he's too old to drive anymore.

You'd be wrong.

Here's the problem with Grandpas: They talk. And they don't. Stop. Talking.

I don't mind a long conversation about a car with a consumer who is genuinely interested in it. I don't mind a short conversation about cars in general. But please do not hijack me with a long, drawn-out conversation about nothing relevant. I know you're lonely. That sucks. Maybe you're lonely because you talk too damn much. Whatever the reason, move on. I HAVE A JOB TO DO.

In addition to the endless talking, grandpas say some wildly inappropriate stuff that they think they can get away with because they're old.

Here are some things your grandpa has said to me at the auto show:
"When are you serving dinner?"
"Want to hear a joke?" Usually followed by "A black guy/Mexican/Jew/Jap walks into a bar..." or some variation of the same.
"Let me tell you about my very first car... It's where my son was conceived."
"You've got a nice tushie."
"I wish my wife had legs like yours."
"I don't want to talk to that 'Oriental' guy, I want to talk to an American."

And yes, "Do you come with the car?"

Well listen up, grandpas. I've got your number. Just because you're old and survived the Korean War or World War II or whatever doesn't mean you have a license to make me ill.

Look, here's what it comes down to. No matter what your age, be respectful. Talk to us not the way you'd talk to your sister, but the way you'd expect someone else to talk to your sister (because you might be a total jerk to her yourself but you'd punch someone else for talking to her like that).

Please be mindful of our time. We are marketing representatives hired to educate people about our cars and hopefully push them in the direction of buying one, while helping to cement a brand image in your minds. If I'm talking to you about how hot you like your tapioca and what your favorite episode of Murder She Wrote is, I am not talking to someone who has a genuine interest in a vehicle (as opposed to my ass).

And lay off the racial jokes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm smarter than you look.

I know more than you.

I know you don't want to believe it. I know it makes your already shy testicles shrink even further into your abdominal cavity. It's time to face facts though, boys: I know more than you do about cars.

Well, maybe not ALL of you, I'll give you that. But I'd say a good 19 out of 20 of you who try to show off by asking ridiculous questions then arguing with me about the answers are doing nothing more than trying to compensate for other shortcomings.

Let's break this down. You drive a minivan or an Unnecessary Truck. (I'll get to the Unnecessary Trucks later. I have much to say on that subject.) You occasionally read Motor Trend, but the last time you did anything even remotely close to being considered engine work was in high school shop class. You use the terms "all-wheel drive" and "four-wheel drive" interchangeably.

I, on the other hand, while not purporting to be the end-all be-all of automotive knowledge, am trained directly by the very engineers who design the vehicles I'm paid to discuss. I have piles upon piles of confidential technical industry information that I study for months before ever stepping on the auto show floor, including competitor info. It is my job to know this stuff, and I take that very seriously.

In short, I know more than you.

Please don't try to show off your "knowledge" when you see me on the auto show floor. Please don't try to look like a big man in front of your buddies or girlfriend. If you do, one of two things will happen: I will totally emasculate you by shutting down your stupidity in front of hundreds of people, or I will simply smile and turn on my heels while you're in the middle of your diatribe and ignore you for the rest of your visit, advising my coworkers to do the same.

We are paid to educate, not be belittled.

PS - Congrats to Ford for their double win today: 2010 NAIAS Car of the Year and Truck of the Year for the Fusion Hybrid and Transit Connect.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I'm not the president of GM

Photo courtesy

It's no secret that the economy is in the toilet, and even now two years in only a few of us are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the hardest hit areas of the country is Michigan, in no small part due to the fall of the American auto industry.

You can imagine how this translates at the auto show.

People in the US, and around the world I would imagine, are angry. They are angry that their homes are worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars less than what they paid for them. They are angry that they don't have jobs. They are angry that their tax dollars went to a bailout for companies that were severely mismanaged. They are angry that foreign auto companies are still somewhat successful, or at least hemorrhaging money at a slower rate than the domestics.

As a product specialist in the middle of this, you get one of two types of crazies depending who you represent. If you're with a foreign company you get the misplaced anger of people thinking you are the cause of America's ills, not realizing how much money such companies actually pump into the American economy. If you're with a domestic company, you're called a "Bailout Babe" and yelled at by angry union members.

I have news for you. I am not the president of GM.

I don't run Toyota.

And in fact, I'm not actually employed by any of the manufacturers you're bitching about and have no pull at all. What does this mean to you? Your yelling, whining and rudeness is all for naught.

I am a performer contracted to an automotive company through a talent agency. I am highly trained and extremely knowledgeable on my chosen subject of automobiles, but I am a contractor nonetheless. That means I had nothing to do with accepting bailouts, where your car was manufactured, why your husband lost his job or any other reason you have an ugly attitude today.

I am happy to write down constructive criticism to pass along to corporate, and in fact part of my job is recording customer comments. I will not, however, listen to vitriol and ignorance. That is not part of my job. And if that is how you approach me, you'll see my back turned to you very quickly. Nowhere in my contract does it say I have to talk to jerks.

PS - Autoblog wrote about the Bailout Babe thing after the New York Auto Show last April - check out their take on it here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Who I am - and who I am not

I am a product specialist for a major automotive manufacturer, or as some people call us, a spokesmodel. (You can call me that. I don't mind. Some women don't like it, though.) I work on the auto show circuit, touring the USA talking about one of the things Americans are most passionate about: cars.

There are different kinds of auto shows and different kinds of auto show girls. I don't do Hot Import Nights shows, and you won't see me in a pair of booty shorts. (At least I hope not, but who knows where this economy will lead us.) While I will not disclose the company I represent or my real name, I will tell you I can actually talk and interact with show visitors. As a product specialist I receive intensive technical training and am quite knowledgeable on the vehicles I represent and our competitors.

You will see some lovely ladies at the show who are not allowed to talk with the public at all, notably working for the exotics like Maserati and Lambo. Their whole job is to pose enticingly next to a car you can't touch. That isn't my job, but there certainly are days I wish it was. I wonder what their day rate is?

(Actually, I do often pose enticingly next to a car you can't touch, but then I pick up a microphone and talk torque and the like for a while before returning to my patented "platform pose.")

I started this blog for a few reasons. One, too many people have no idea how to behave like a respectful human being at the auto show and probably have no clue they are acting like idiots. Two, this industry and this career are surrounded by romance and mystique. People see us and think we live wildly glamorous lives. I don't want to burst your bubble, but...

Actually I guess I do want to burst your bubble, because this blog is an exposé of sorts. Not an exposé of some seedy auto show undercurrent, because it is a pretty fabulous gig filled with awesome people. An exposé, rather, of you, your perceptions of us, and how you treat women in general. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

And for the record? You don't have enough money to buy the car I would come with, buddy.