Why ‘Car Babes’ Are Banned From China Auto Show – Forbes

Posted: Monday, April 20, 2015

When Shanghai’s annual auto show opens this week, one particular detail will be missing – the car girls.

Young female models sitting provocatively on car hoods in revealing outfits to attract visitors have become synonymous with auto shows in China.

But at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition opening on April 22, the girls are no longer welcome, Chinese media reports.

The reason is simple: Visitors find it hard to focus on the cars.

“Models at auto shows have often been criticized for causing distractions by wearing fewer and fewer clothes,” China Daily wrote. “Pretty women could certainly attract the crowds but prevented potential customers from focusing on the vehicles.”

A model poses at Subaru’s booth at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

However, auto dealers are likely to find ways of working around the new restriction. Industry insiders said some companies plan to hire models as “receptionists” or “sales consultants” to beat the ban.

Another reason for the ban is safety. The Shanghai government said mass gatherings and activities will face stricter control after a deadly stampede in the city on New Year’s Eve killed 36 people. Children are for the first time banned from entry to the Shanghai show for “safety reasons.”

The Xinhua news agency said the decision could be down to moral concerns.

China’s auto industry is facing weaker growth. Last year, growth halved to 7% and is continuing to slow this year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. For the first three months, sales of automobiles were up only 3.9% year on year.

Despite the slowdown, the Chinese market is still the largest and most important in the world. Covering over 530,000 square meters, the Shanghai show is expected to attract nearly 2,000 auto companies from 18 countries and regions.

“The market will increase less than in former years, but still much higher than in any other relevant automotive market in the world,” President and CEO of Volkswagen Group Volkswagen Group China, Jochem Heizmann, told reporters on Sunday, according to AFP. “It’s still a tremendous market,” he said.

It’s still a matter of debate whether the ban on auto-show girls will ultimately lead to increased sales. Not all think it will.

A public relations consultant told Xinhua that “the more attractive the models are, the better publicity a brand can gain.”

“It is a hidden rule in our industry,” he said. “Everyone is brainstorming about how to make their car models seductive.”

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