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Successful exhibitions traditionally take place incities or countries with a strong reputation for thesector the exhibition has been conceived toserve. The automotive industry provides a clear exampleof this. Four of the five largest international motor showstake place in the auto manufacturing hotbeds ofGermany, Tokyo, the US and France. Despite therecession's impact on the car manufacturing industry,they continue to pull in the visitors, buoyed perhaps bythe collapse of lesser global car exhibitions.It's the fifth member of this top-tier group, the GenevaInternational Motor Show, held in a country with nodomestic car manufacturing industry, that provides anunusual argument for an international exhibitionorganiser.The learned wisdom is that shows should be held inmarkets with a strong related local markets. But the truthis that Geneva benefits from Switzerland's neutrality.Much as it did during the world wars, and still does fortoday's chastened hedgefunds, Switzerland offers itsclientele refuge; a place where they can do business onequal terms with their competitors. Take Detroit as an example; America's motor city. Somebrands will be put off launching a new model in the backFeature| Exhibition World24| April 2011| THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NETNeutral groundThere are no major car manufacturers in Switzerland - so why is the GenevaInternational Motor Show still on the podium while others limp into the pit lane? Antony Reeve-Crooklooks at one of Europe's most glamourous events.Photography: Chris Seaman

Exhibition World | Feature25yard of huge US brands such as Ford, General Motors,Chrysler and Chevrolet. These US brands will hit Detroitlooking to impress not only the overseas markets, but thedomestic US market, and will throw everything they haveat their stands, maximising their marketing spend todrown out competitors' engines with elaborate andspectacular model launches.It's an issue that affects all the international motorshows but Geneva. Tokyo is home turf to Toyota, Nissanand Mazda; Germany to Volkswagen, Mercedes andBMW; France to Citroen, Renault and Peugeot.Switzerland, on the other hand, is home to Rinspeed, amanufacturer best known for creating Splash; anamphibious car capable of 50mph on water, and thisyear's BamBoo; an odd-looking concept with onlymarginally broader appeal."We are the only international show of these five thattakes place on neutral ground," said director of theGeneva International Motor Show, Rolf Studer. "We have no automotive production in Switzerland.So every brand has the same chance to show itsproducts to the press and to the 700,000 visitors.Without preference."This neutrality holds particular appeal for designers.Geneva has a reputation for being the launching groundof many models, and with a level playing field,manufacturers are more inclined to unveil their latestmodels. The exhibition has developed a reputation forbeing a major branding event, rather than a straightbuyer's market, evidenced by the high number of modellaunches. And the model launches bring the media,which means the show doesn't need to rely onperformance arenas and similar show pieces. "We don'tneed spectacle - we have serious things," says Studer.The serious content continues with the exhibition's strongconference programme. This year, during the two pressdays preceding the public opening, there were 80conferences on issues including alternative propulsion andsustainable motoring. "We started three years ago with thegreen pavilion for alternative technology," says Studer."These companies know they have a platform here. Theylike to come to Geneva to prove this technology."THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| April 2011|