Our Say – The shows must go on

By: Rob McKay

Truck shows are the jewels in the marketing crown for the trucking industry and support for them is critical

Our Say – The shows must go on
Trucking’s showcases, such as the Melbourne event, are crucial

Late last year, the Royal Family sent Prince Harry over to take part in the Royal Australia Navy’s 100th anniversary celebration. Our monarch and her retinue know very well the importance of appearances, both their own and in being seen.

This writer has been quite close the Queen Elizabeth on one occasion only. It was in a ‘previous life’ in London when part of Her Majesty’s loyal maritime press and the occasion was the opening of UK Chamber of Shipping’s then-new digs in London.

After security came the equerry, an army type who was built like rugby union hooker of the 1980s, that is to say, not particularly tall but very broad and with huge biceps and short legs. Then entered the Queen.

For this evening event, she was wearing an emerald twinset. From a distance her clothing seemed to be unencumbered by much jewellery and this observer’s first thought was how demure, almost humble she seemed.  Not what was expected. The thought formed unbidden that at least her smile was radiant.

But as she got closer, passing curtseying and bowing subjects, my eyes got wider and wider as I realised how soft my thinking had been. For on the Royal bosom was pinned a spray of the most enormous emeralds you would wish to see. Each was the circumference of an experienced truck driver’s or farmer’s fingernail   . . .

This story is no paen to royalty as this writer holds little store in accidents of birth. This was a lesson in class and expectation.

The Queen has to sport certain expensively exquisite things. It is part of the mysitique that is necessary to convince the masses that this is so much more than any ‘ordinary’ person. But it is also a compact them. Watch enough BBC royal documentaries and that truth is drummed in. It is what most of her subjects want and expect.

But no monarch worth his or her salt can afford to be gaudy, superficial or unconvincing. Hence, Harry amongst the Australians was in his uniform with ribbons from time with the Army in Afghanistan and elsewhere, doing his best to make active service in the armed forces seem glamorous, as his forebears had always done.  

How else has a nation historically recruited young people into what can be a dangerous and sometimes unexpectedly appalling calling?

And how is the freight industry and those that service it going about doing the same for their sector?

Once a century, the RAN can entice other nation’s fighting ships to joint it in harbour time, which is more than its mercantile brethren can do. And "running away to sea" has lost all resonance and romance.

You can’t get interested crowds to wander around in wonder and imagine themselves being part of something by gathering a flotilla of tankers, gas carriers, container carriers and general cargo carriers – yet with trucks, you can!

Like agriculture and sometimes cars, trucking can put on an annual show that will entice fair numbers of the public that love to be exposed to it.

Agriculture does it for different reasons and most of those are personal.

A truck show does it for business reasons, and there is the rub.  In tough times, manufacturers’ head offices are making hard decisions on marketing budgets, often globally.

Trying to convince them that they need a presence at several shows, particularly if there is an absence of new model or development to hang it on, is a tough ask.

The pointy-heads are within their rights to argue that there can be no charity about a presence at a show. Yet it remains short-term and narrow thinking that should be put straight by superiors.

Neither vehicle manufacturer nor industry customer survives or thrives without the other. More so than car-maker and motorist, it can be a partnership. Part of that is both sides putting their best face to the public, whether general or sector-specific.

For the general public, it is about attracting new generations to the industry and demystifying the sector to engender understanding and acceptance, if support is a step too far.

For those within the industry and with a love for it, it is a token of solidarity and respect to those who part with their hard-earned.

It might be tough but that, too, is class.

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