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Universo Ferrari vs. Frankfurt | PH Footnote

Ferrari wasn't the only brand missing from the motor show. But it was the only one with something better to do

By Dafydd Wood / Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The unveiling of not one but two new models - and on the same day, no less - might seem like an occasion tailor-made for an event like Geneva, Paris or LA. But as the motor show merry-go-round swung back into gear this week, and the automotive world fixed its gaze on Frankfurt, there wasn’t a single Ferrari representative to be seen on the overly-lit floor.

Instead, the Maranello-based marque was busy putting on a show of its own, flying around 140 members of the world’s media to Italy to present not just its two latestcreations, but the setting, too. Dubbed ‘Universo Ferrari’, the event is housed within an 8,000-square-metre pavilion, erected alongside the brand’s famous Fiorano test track. Here it has the space to not only exhibit examples of every model in its current line up, but also showcase its heritage, restoration and racing programmes. And, crucially, to do it the Ferrari way.

Speaking at the opening of Universo, Ferrari’s Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer, Enrico Galliera, told journalists that the traditional motor show format doesn’t offer the brand the opportunity to display so many of its cars, or to create a backdrop which can last for such a long period of time. The stands themselves are also often too crowded to accommodate the kind of experience which a marque like Ferrari prides itself on, and which its customers have come to expect. 

The solution seems like an obvious one, but while Ferrari is not alone in shunning the traditional shows - the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley, Toyota and Volvo all giving Frankfurt a pass this year - don’t expect to see any of them following suit anytime soon. While the shift has been on the cards for some time - as marques increasingly favour events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which place an emphasis on customer and fan engagement and dynamic vehicle displays - there aren’t many companies which can boast the same draw as Ferrari. Whether you’re a fan of its cars or not, the passion and dedication of both its clients and supporters remains unmatched, even amongst the most celebrated of rivals.

To that end, Universo Ferrari will not only cater to customers during its one-month run, but to the company’s employees and fans as well. Tickets for the two open weekends of September 21-22 and September 28-29 can be booked on the Ferrari Museum website, allowing an immersive insight into the workings of its Classiche, FXX, series production and limited-run offerings. From a 1962 250 GTO to a 2017 FXX-K Evo, and a Portofino to a Monza SP1, Ferraris of all shapes and sizes are on display; not forgetting the company’s motorsport cars, represented by current-gen SF90 F1 car and Le Mans class-winning 488 GTE. All of this is on display just a stone’s throw from the existing factory and museum set-ups, which fans can access separately, as well as the Fiorano test track, upon which they can see some of their favourite models stretching their legs. 

Galliera remained tight-lipped on the firm’s future plans, saying only that it took a “step by step” approach to determining each show’s relevance. Should Universo be a success, though, there seems little reason for Ferrari to return to any but the biggest of gatherings. And in an age when fans can connect with their chosen brands via everything from YouTube influencers to online configurators, organisers are more reliant on marquee names to draw crowds than ever. With mainstream manufacturer budgets shrinking and luxury brands opting for more personal events, the death of the traditional motor show may be even closer than we thought.

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