Take the case of South Korean company Ssangyong Motor. A year ago, two blondes in silver mini dresses and stiletto heels were stationed at its display at the Geneva Motor Show. When the annual event re-opens on Thursday, its "booth babes" will be replaced by male and female models dressed in sportswear to drive interest in its pick-ups and cars. Ssangyong is not alone in bowing to pressure from the global MeToo movement against sexual misdeeds. Larger brands including Toyota and Nissan have also said they will cut back on the coquetry in Geneva, marking a potential sea change for an industry that has long pandered to male customers by using attractive women to sell cars.
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- Long synonymous with scantily-clad women draped over pricy vehicles, this year's Geneva Motor Show is almost void of "booth babes", as automakers strive to polish their images following the MeToo movement.
Cars and women. From Singapore to Detroit, the two are intertwined — sometimes literally — at auto shows around the world. My first thought when I came in was: where are all the girls? For many critics, car companies need to go further to tackle sexism in the motor industry. But how does this year compare to shows before it? Stefania Orlando travelled to Switzerland with her husband and son to check out the auto show, marking her fourth time at GIMS. Orlando, who came from Milan, noticed an immediate difference in model attendance.
SsangYong and Nissan are not the first to give their models a lower profile — or do away with them outright. Toyota has, for more than a year, carried a no-model policy in Europe. Subaru has also promoted the use of hosts and hostesses — and they take the hiring process seriously.
Afterwards, they are given a test to pass before the hire is given the green light, according to Rea Tanner, a hostess with Subaru. The showroom is also made up of diverse staff, she says.
I wondered if I was too fat or too tall. I was really stressed. I can be myself and my own personality. As Euronews walked along the stands, it was clear not all models were shunned, nor experts. Tyre companies at the auto show, on the other hand, had one thing in common with each other other than rubber wheels: models. For Duthe and her modelling colleague, who previously worked at the Singapore Auto Show, they are happy to take part under these terms. While MeToo has had an impact on showrooms, its effect has not gone unnoticed on the race tracks.
So hopefully there will be another big boom in the next several years to make it go a bit quicker. The Colombian native, who was promoted this week to become a Formula 1 test driver for Sauber , said there is a difference in how women are treated on and off the tracks. Part of changing the misconceptions of female drivers and fans, for Calderon, is getting more women into the sport.
Euronews is no longer accessible on Internet Explorer. This browser is not updated by Microsoft and does not support the last technical evolutions. Text size Aa Aa. A model dressed as a racer stands next to the Pininfarina H2 speed, powered by GreenGT, for its world debut.
Model Candice Duthe, right, poses next to tyres.
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Long synonymous with scantily-clad women draped over pricy vehicles, this year's Geneva Motor Show is almost void of "booth babes", as automakers strive to polish their images following the MeToo movement. Carmakers have for several years been scaling back the use of skin-flashing models to draw in an overwhelmingly male audience at events like the one in Geneva. But the trend seems to have gained significant steam in a world reeling from recent revelations of sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination across all industries and growing demands from women for respect and equality.
She was among a new brand of "car explainers", who this year by far outnumbered the dozen women working as models only on the show's floor. These young men and women are trained by the companies to provide technical explanations about the vehicles on display, and appear to adhere to a clear dress code: trousers or long skirts topped with long-sleeved shirts and jackets.
There continue to be a few outliers, including luxury Italian brand Manifattura Automobili Torino, which has this year again staffed its stand with models in short-short dresses and thigh-high boots.
One of the women towering over a nifty little Manifattura sports car is Italian model Eva Squillari, who told AFP she saw no problem with modelling at the show. And I'm not naked so there's nothing wrong with this," she said. Squillari, who has been modelling for eight years and is at the Geneva show for the second year running, said she did not believe she or other women were "objectified" at the car show.
Two young women in short dresses were also posing for pictures at Swiss tire-maker Cooper Tires' stand. At Renault for instance, Wittmann said the decision had been reached years ago to change its show strategy and focus on competence over sex appeal.
He said the French automaker had added more men and had basically attained gender parity at its booth. Toyota's marketing chief Fabio Capano also said his company had "always" focused on training booth workers to explain the merchandise.
A number of people at the Geneva show voiced support for the shift underway, and also hailed Formula One's recent decision to dispense with so-called grid girls in the lead-up to races. The stands of Italian carmakers Fiat and Alfa Romeo meanwhile continued to employ mainly women to showcase their vehicles. But the women were modestly dressed, and Fiat Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne told reporters he did not think "we are being offensive to anybody with this".
While hailing the shifts underway, some of the women on the floor stressed that sexism was still alive and well at car shows like the one in Geneva. One car explainer, who refused to give her name, said she had received a number of "vulgar and unwanted comments".
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