Just try sticking a digital brochure to a wall
When I was a kid, my dad took me to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I wandered the displays collecting brochures and posters in plastic promotional bags until the handles stretched like taffy and nearly snapped under the weight of hundreds of slickly designed, glossy handouts.
I plastered my bedroom walls with posters of sports cars, mainly. Porsche, Corvette and Camaro brochures were immediately afixed to the painted drywall until the following year when they were all replaced by the newest models.
My son won’t have quite the same experience as automakers move toward showroom touchscreens and downloadable computer files of the promotional material. As an example, Ford is cutting 800,000 printed brochures of new models from its bottom line in 2017.
They all claim it’s for the environment, but of course we know it also has to do with the cost. It’s not cheap to produce hundreds of thousands of brochures a year.
And I get it, you need to go where the buyers are: Online. Nearly 80 per cent of Canadians do some shopping online, according to any number of surveys from online retailer eBates to Canada Post.
At least one Canadian auto dealer, Birchwood Automotive Group in Winnipeg, can complete an entire sales transaction online. No wonder automakers are putting all their marketing effort into online videos and interactive displays. They’re more dynamic, engaging, customizable and shareable than any piece of paper.
“Why would you ever have a static picture and you can’t see the product in action?” marketing professor Robin Ritchie said.
Why? Because some of us still like to take it home and put it on the wall. Others collect them like ticket stubs, which, by the way, are also fading away.
“Demand still exists for printed brochures,” FCA spokesman Daniel Labre assured me. “Most prominently with enthusiasts, proud owners who want something tangible as they wait for their new cars to arrive.”
If you’re like me, you can at least peruse some blasts from the past on the Automotive News Canada website, where we’ve uploaded photos of some old time brochures curated by the Automotive Archives at the Windsor Public Library, dating all the way back to the 1932 Buick Eight.
Enjoy them, even if you can’t stick them to your wall.