A decade ago car companies one-upped each other with useless trinkets like stress balls, key chains, posters, and the like. Nowadays the one-uppedness includes press kits, namely, the snazz of the USB drives on which the kits are delivered.
A few years ago, companies started giving away generic multi-GB drives with their logos silkscreened on the key and the press materials preloaded on the drive. The drives were an instant hit…members of the third estate no longer were loaded down with folders upon folders of press releases. Plus, the drives could be erased and reused!!! Last year, some of the companies proffered USB drives shaped like the remote starter/key-fobs of their new vehicles. They were fun and novel…and judging by how quickly they were snapped up when put out on the press tables, very well received.
This year, the USB “arms race” has moved further upscale. Cadillac gave out a USB drive that have definitely reset the bar for trade show goodies. The USB drive was porcelain wrapped by heavy-gauge stainless steel which folds out…yeah, a definite keeper!
Not to be out done, Acura gave out a black tin box containing a solid aluminum model of the new NSX, along with matching USB drive. The model would look great on any desk and will serve as a nice paper weight for those who remember what those are for.
Porsche also went with a combo. When we first saw it, we thought it was a booklet on the new Porsche Spyder. Way cool. We love their booklets. When we opened it, there was a booklet inside, but also a very elegant USB drive with the Porsche logo laser-etched on the mirrored cover. Bonus!
These high-end press materials were no longer just tossed out in the open, but placed “behind the counter.” So one must now know to ask for them! What was once a “walk around and collect some info about the new cars” has turned into an unspoken game of treasure hunt…
We are always looking for clues and predictors we can use to get a better handle on “what’s coming.” Perhaps the effort the companies put into their press material containers is an interesting data point by which one can gauge the state of the auto market. If true, then things are definitely looking up.