Chrysler: Damned When They Do; Damned When They Won’t

It has been reported that Chrysler is not going to be holding a press conference at the 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). This is being received in some circles as one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

It has been reported that Chrysler is not going to be holding a press conference at the 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). This is being received in some circles as one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

Over the past several years, Chrysler’s press conferences—”small Broadway shows” is a better description—have become legendary. From driving a Grand Cherokee up a comparatively steep flight of outside stairs and through a plate glass window at Cobo Center to having a cattle roundup on Jefferson Avenue, from Ken Kesey holding forth about the open road to a flirtatious Eva Longoria shutting down a Chrysler CEO. . . Chrysler’s presentations were always talked about and written about, eclipsing virtually everything else shown during media days.

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So let’s say that they held a press conference at the 2010 NAIAS and it was presented straight. No over-the-top execution. Just something along the lines of what some German companies do, which is nothing more than executives reciting a speech replete with statistics. What would be the reaction to that?

Probably a whole lot of coverage of something that didn’t happen: “Chrysler Press Conference Goes Off Without a Clown, Muppet or Cow.”

Again, a sign of the Apocalypse.

Let’s say that they stayed true to tradition and pulled off something that would make the halftime show at Super Bowl XLIV seem trivial? (And knowing the folks over in Auburn Hills, I know that they could.) What then?

Probably a whole lot of coverage that would echo Capitan Renault’s line in Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find gambling is going on here!” as though—wink, wink—it was expected, but how dare they do such antics with taxpayer dollars!

Either way, they can’t win. More’s the pity. But whether it is at NAIAS or elsewhere, I’m betting that they’ll have something up their sleeves that will surprise everyone.