Auto Shows of North America (ASNA) is a committee of Automotive Trade Association Executives. The Mission of ASNA is to be the industry resource for auto show information and education, and to provide a network for communication between show executives, manufacturers, other industry affiliates and media.
Camp Jeep brings trail experience to the Big AppleThe mountains of New York City are beautiful in the spring.
Visitors to last season’s New York International Auto Show might well have thought so as they encountered one of automotive marketing’s most innovative initiatives – “Camp Jeep New York.”
Already a hit with participants when done in the wilds, the George P. Johnson-orchestrated event broke new ground – tons of ground – in recreating a “must see, must do” experience in a building not known for being central to the auto show itself.
“That was the year we produced an offsite press event at the Michigan State Fair Coliseum,” says Tulloch. “Yes, it was just for press and dealer training purposes, but it was the genesis of being able to convince people that it could be done on a much larger scale.”
Fast forward to two years before last year’s New York International Auto Show and Tulloch is walking through the North Pavilion of the Javits Center, a building mostly used for warehousing crates – not what some would characterize as prime exhibition space.
“I thought ‘it’s a wild idea. They’ll laugh me off the floor.’”
Credit Chrysler Group’s Jeep marketing team for giving the green light to what became one of the most popular events in not only the history of the Jeep brand, but one of the most talked about initiatives surrounding the show itself. And with at least a caution light to proceed with planning, Tulloch and his team went to work – performing detailed analysis of air quality, building engineering and every conceivable factor that might impact such an indoor event.
“The fact that Madison Square Garden had experienced tractor pulls was something that helped with our case,” says Tulloch. So did the fact that George P. Johnson had had that Michigan State Fair Coliseum experience, with dinner for 3,000 journalists and Jeep vehicles running in the surrounding area.
“We’d done this before,” says Tulloch. “That experience helped us build a high level of trust that it would be successful in New York.”
By Labor Day 2003, detailed floor plans had been submitted and the team had a “thumbs up” to proceed. Even in December, when a heightened security alert meant going back to the drawing board, the George P. Johnson team was able, largely because of its ability to maintain good relations with venue management, to address each and every concern raised.
So how do you put several thousand enthusiasts through a Camp Jeep experience in the context of one of the nation’s busiest auto shows?
Those “wait and see” features included sculptors doing Jeep lifestyle sand sculpting (labeled “Jeep Sandtastic”) as well as a 90 percent scale Jeep Renegade dirigible floating above the crowds.
In the end, Camp Jeep New York saw some 300,000 riders participate in the event, more than double the organizers’ initial predictions.
And likely generated some new customers in the process.
“Jeep used the trail rated course as a backdrop to launch the new Grand Cherokee and the Liberty Diesel,” says Tulloch. “There’s no doubt that this event met the mark, with the client and the customers who participated in Camp Jeep New York.”
Washington show shifting away from holiday calendar slotIn what amounts to the second major improvement in recent years, the Washington Auto Show has successfully arranged for a long-desired shift in its dates away from the end of year holiday period to a more desirable late January timeframe.
While the calendar change won't take effect until the 2006 show, the date change is the culmination of a major effort on the part of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association.
"This is something we've been working toward for many years," says Gerard N. Murphy, WANADA president (and show producer). "For consumers and car enthusiasts alike, it's a tremendously positive move that will enhance the size, stature and magnitude of the show."
The date change follows on the heels of a change in venue that gave the event much-needed additional space (the Washington Auto Show was the first public show in the new Washington Convention Center).
Beginning in 2006, manufacturers that benefited from the additional space will, Murphy says, be able to take full advantage of the governmental, regulatory and diplomatic benefits the nation's capital has to offer (many of Washington's government executives and elected officials are typically out of town during the show's holiday time period).
Paragon promotes Barbara Pudney to vice presidentOne of the founding members of Paragon Group has been promoted to vice president.
In her new position, Pudney will liaison with auto dealer boards of directors and develop sponsorships for the three auto shows handled by Paragon (Boston, Portland and Jacksonville) plus the various other consumer shows and events it produces. She will also handle human resources duties at Paragon, which has a staff of 10.
Paragon president Garry Edgar, in making the announcement, acknowledged Pudney’s commitment to the success of the organization. “Barbara is a driving force of the company with full knowledge and ability to run every aspect of the business.”
The company can be found at www.paragonexpo.com.
Mark your calendars …ATAE/ASNA Winter Meetings; in conjunction with the NADA Convention & Exposition, New Orleans; January 29 – Feb. 1, 2005.
ASNA Summer Meeting; in conjunction with ATAE Annual Meeting, Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn., July 12 – 13, 2005.
Veteran ‘do it all’ exhibit house helps launch MINIIf there’s one thing that the folks at Czarnowski have learned and mastered, it’s that it takes people--lots of people--to pull off a comprehensive program like the multi-site launch of the MINI Convertible.
But some 15 years ago, the company found itself doing more than providing labor. It was being asked to begin designing and fabricating some of the very same custom exhibits it previously was setting up and dismantling, in the process uncovering even more opportunities, automotive included.
This is one capable company. John Pugh, director of Czarnowski’s automotive group, explains:
“We’re already set up to handle very large, very complex exhibition programs that require strategic planning and demand the kinds of services we’re able to provide,” says Pugh, whose own experience includes working with manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, American Isuzu and Volvo in addition to the launch of the MINI.
And while Czarnowski has a proven track record in handling an entire exhibit project, they also “play well with others.”
“About 25 percent of our work comes directly from exhibit houses,” says Pugh. “We’re used to taking other properties and working with them.”
Plus, they’re good listeners.
“We become part of the team,” says Pugh. “That means working with the manufacturer, developing an understanding of the branding process, partnering with the ad agency and making sure everything we touch is directed toward a consistent building and strengthening of the brand.”
If that sounds like an overly ambitious approach, Pugh says the company is ready and able to deliver.
“One of the biggest advantages we can deliver to a client is the availability of a very comprehensive toolbox,” he says. “We have all the tools that are necessary to handle any exhibition project, which means we concentrate on sitting down with the client, listen first to what’s needed and then tailor the approach to what’s appropriate for that situation. It’s important to listen to what the needs are and that’s what we do.”
Case in point: The MINI Division of BMW North America’s launch of the new Convertible at last year’s New York International Auto Show.
“At the same time, we worked very closely with the MINI and BMW public relations departments as well as the advertising agency. This was a very collaborative process that most importantly, worked very well.”
Still, Pugh says Czarnowski remains one of the most capable providers of contract labor in the nation – with some 1,400 workers on hand coupled with strong organized labor relationships that translate into an effective organization.
“As a 60-year veteran of the labor industry, it’s something we do very well,” says Pugh. “That’s important when you’re trying to get things done. We use that expertise to get the exhibits up quickly and down quickly. And we’re one of the best at what we do.”
“Exhibitors at auto shows in particular are constantly looking for ways to outdo themselves from a visual standpoint,” notes Mills. “It’s our job to help them with that.”
If that sounds easier said than done, the challenge is compounded by the ever-increasing complexity of electronic equipment that companies like BlueWater Technologies must master.
Thankfully, they’re the pros.
With more than 200 manufacturers being represented, Mills and company (he’s vice president of new business development at the Southfield, Mich.-based firm) are up on what’s latest and greatest among the purveyors of display technologies.
Originally a sales and rental organization, it was the integration of the various components that presented one of the biggest challenges for BlueWater’s clients, and thus an area of opportunity for the company, which has offices in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Los Angeles in addition to the Detroit area.
“People would buy the equipment but then wouldn’t know how to put it together,” says Mills. “That’s where we were able to come in and provide those solutions.”
Indeed, BlueWater’s modus operandi involves taking that “big picture” approach to a project where display technology is key.
“We take a look at the entire project from a very economical standpoint,” says Mills. “The result is we’re able to solve some very difficult problems when it comes to technology integration.”
Even so, BlueWater seems to be able to make the monstrous almost mundane as it works, for example, with the eight GM divisions at an auto show, sharing its integration services among all of them.
“The alternative might have been to have separate crews for each of the divisions,” says Mills. “This is a much more efficient (and more economical) way of doing the same work.”
BlueWater Technologies also works with manufacturers who, more often than not, have bought display equipment, which differs from a more typical rental scenario.
“They do, however, look for a freshening of the display every year and that’s an area that we’re always looking for new ways and new approaches,” says Mills.
Mills says BlueWater also works closely with exhibit houses, assisting them in how best to integrate the technology into displays.
At the same time, BlueWater is also working with auto show organizers themselves as efforts to grab the attention of the public increases.
Another area where BlueWater Technologies is increasingly front and center is in the integration of show floor efforts to market directly to customers. One notable example is the development of a lead management system for GM involving custom software, handheld computer and a wireless local area network that gives product specialists the tools to capture lead generation information on prospective customers wanting brochures mailed to their homes.
“That was a process that without the technology might have taken three to four weeks to achieve the same result,” says Mills. “We’ve helped shorten that cycle to three or four days.”
Palmer & Cay builds value in management of riskRisky business?
As an insurance broker itself, there’s little surprise that Palmer & Cay would ultimately like an opportunity to handle some of whatever business results. But more to the point, Cunnane says developing an effective risk management program is a critical first step in the process, with Palmer & Cay well positioned to be a source of consultancy as ASNA and its members move forward.
“If things progress the way we expect that they would, we’d be able to incorporate that beta test and expand the program down the road,” says Cunnane.
At Palmer & Cay, the second largest privately held brokerage in the nation, a strategy for success includes replicating the value and services of larger firms, but with a personal touch.
“Those larger firms do have tremendous resources, but whether they have the willingness or ability to offer the personal touch is something else,” says Cunnane.
At the other end of the spectrum are the smaller firms that excel at the personal level but may lack the resources organizations like an auto show needs or wants.
“We believe we’ve carved out a niche that let’s us excel at both ends,” says Cunnane.
The development of Palmer & Cay has seen the organization grow to a size where that positioning is beginning to play out.
As it grows, Palmer & Cay continues to build strong programs involving alternative risk and a variety of complex but tailored risk management services, something Cunnane says is key to the success of his clients, and especially in the auto show sector.
“We expect to be able to put together programs that have real teeth from a savings standpoint, but also develop and implement best practices that can be applied to all auto shows,” he says. In other words, auto shows both large and smaller will be able to benefit from the approach Palmer & Cay plan to bring to the table.
As an example, Cunnane points to bringing consistency to the way an auto show handles its contractual arrangements as providing opportunity for new efficiencies. He also sees other areas where the risk management expertise of Palmer & Cay can work for auto show organizers. One would be the often-overlooked area of workplace safety, which can dramatically affect the cost of insurance.
“We like to think we can offer either tools or guides that could provide a better safety environment,” says Cunnane. “If we’re able to convince the underwriters that this is a better environment, regardless of the size and the number of people who attend the show, that has the potential to make a big difference in the cost of insurance.”
Calgary: focus on customers key to show’s successComing up on 25 years of auto show history, the folks at Canada’s Calgary International Auto & Truck Show have learned a thing or two--including what consumers in this oil-rich province typically want in an auto exposition.
“Our show has always had as its objective to provide the best possible opportunity for the consumer to view concept vehicles, and current and future production vehicles on purely a ‘show’ display basis,” he says. “Even though they can and do purchase vehicles here, it’s designed to be a show first.”
Which means, among other things, that Thompson and his team seek out reasons for the public to attend in the first place.
One key highlight was the showcase Saleen 7 supercar, which Thompson says formed the basis for much of the pre-show marketing.
“It was our introduction of the vehicle to this market and it made quite a hit at the show,” says Thompson. “As a matter of fact, there were two orders taken for the vehicle while it was here.”
Specific pre-show marketing initiatives for Calgary include an annual show guide that’s produced by the dealers’ association and delivered through the city’s two newspapers to virtually every household. Only downtown apartments aren’t covered by the mass distribution, but on-site copies of the guide are also handed out at the show.
Calgary also partners with both of the markets competing newspapers for a number of vehicle giveaways, each publication partnering with various dealer groups to drive interest for the promotions.
“It certainly helps promote the show,” says Thompson, noting that competition for readers spills over into ways that benefit the event.
Indeed, Thompson says the western Canadian city benefits from a very strong dealer group that supports the industry. “They make it very enjoyable to put the show together.”
And learning is part of that process.
“We always learn from other shows, there’s no doubt about that,” says Thompson, who says going after the Saleen 7 “draw” was one that he picked up on at other events. “We found that was very successful to have something like that, something that people don’t see on an every day basis. We may not get the juicy concepts of other cities, but we can go for vehicles (like the Saleen 7) that are out of the ordinary.”
Thompson says the lure of the Saleen spilled over to the media and, in turn, drove attendance up 12 percent over the previous year.
“The media jumped all over it,” says Thompson. “Aside from what you do with paid advertising, any time you’re able to get the media on your side and come and talk about your industry, it adds to the overall success.”
That success also included the show’s fifth annual “Vehicles and Violins” preview gala to benefit charity. Each of two charities – the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta – received just over $81,000 through ticket sales to 1,100 attendees. More than $700,000 has been raised through this initiative in its brief history.
Denver: Weather cooperates as show gears up for expansionBill Barrow still gets a little nervous when he hears the familiar “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” tune.
Thankfully, no such winter weather impacted last season’s event, says auto show coordinator Merilee Keene.
What organizers did do was to focus on a number of marketing efforts, including an innovative emphasis on one issue that Denver residents most care about – protecting the environment.
That came in the form of a Toyota full size hybrid (diesel/electric) truck that boasted full economy in the range of 50 miles per gallon – unheard of in a vehicle of its size.
“From a media perspective, that alone worked wonders,” says Barrow. “We had that exhibit splashed all over the place, with various reporters excited about a vehicle that size being able to get that kind of mileage. It swept right through the electronic media.”
For show organizers, the emphasis on electronic media might have been something of an experiment. The show deliberately cut back on print advertising and turned up the volume on TV. The experiment worked, says Barrow.
The reduction in print, he says, was offset by the upsurge in interest among electronic media. “They did a great job of covering the show, from early in the morning right through the 10 pm news. It worked out very well,” says Barrow.
He also credits an innovative TV ad featuring a time-lapse of the previous year’s auto show being set up and taken down as driving public interest in the event. “I worked the ticket counter and I can’t tell you the number of people who were commenting on the ad,” says Barrow. “We’ll use it again next year.”
Once at the show, members of the public were treated to many of the new vehicle introductions seen around the country, among them Cadillac’s SRX and XLR models as well as the Audi A8-L, S4 sedan and the RS6.
Next year’s event, he says, will also see the show expand into the accessory and aftermarket sector, an area that had previously been featured but set aside when space constraints became overwhelming. With an additional 60,000 to 70,000 of net new space available next year, it’s an area that will receive renewed emphasis. Barrow also expects the expanded convention center will mean easier loading and unloading of exhibits.
“We’re looking forward to a much smoother show in years ahead.”
Greater Lehigh Valley: auto show proves Lutz theory“Auto shows are so significant, that if a dealer was down to his last dollar, he should invest it in an auto show.”
And Martha Cusimano, executive director of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association, and show producer, has the numbers to prove it.
“A huge majority – 93 percent – of show attendees said they were actively shopping to buy,” says Cusimano, who adds that the figure was slightly up from last year’s findings. Also up was attendance, with customers out in force and breaking attendance records for the seventh straight year in a region that enjoys low unemployment and a diverse and resilient economic infrastructure.
“We have found that car shoppers use the auto show as a research opportunity to ‘study up’ for their next vehicle purchase in a time efficient manner,” says show chair Fred Rentschler, president of Rentschler Chevrolet Chrysler Jeep, of Slatington, Penn. “It’s also a family affair,” he adds. “You see serious group shopping in progress as families sort out what best meets their vehicle needs. It’s immensely popular with busy moms and women in general, who love the chance to be educated in a relaxed environment.”
Even so, he admits male buyers were also out in full force – some 60 percent of total attendees. “Guys are the biggest car lovers on the planet,” says Rentschler.
“There’s no question that our attendees were delighted – from show start to finish.”
In the process, the show, now entering its eighth season, now includes the West Pavilion, a giant, carpeted, clear span building that boasts a festive atmosphere created by thousands of spring flowers throughout an exhibit hall that houses several additional manufacturers
“Our show occurs right after a long Pennsylvania winter,” says Cusimano “It lifts spirits and makes people smile to see the huge displays of flowers and we’re lucky enough to be close to some of the finest growers, so it’s become a show highlight.”
Also part of the show attractions were popular Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Chad Lewis; Candace Otto, Miss Pennsylvania; “SWOOP,” the Eagles’ mascot; baseball great Greg Luzinski; as well as local TV personalities.
The auto dealers also honored the commitment and service of area fire fighters and police, who were the special guests of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers.
“Right after 9-11, our board decided to invite these first responders as an expression of appreciation for their service to our community,” says Cusimano. “They have become a permanent part of our guest list ever since and a remarkable number of officers have accepted our invitation in the past two years, especially given that they’re treated as VIPs in their own backyard.”
Other VIP guests included more than 800 automotive technology students, teachers, parents and family members who arrived on Auto Technology Day. Among the highlights was the fielding of questions from exhibitors, the kind of effort that won the show’s Auto Tech Team a silver medal two years in a row at national competitions held at the New York International Auto Show.
Cusimano says a comprehensive multimedia marketing campaign, which included extensive use of print, radio, TV and outdoor, also featured a one-hour preview show, produced by WFMZ-TV. Marketing efforts also included a special buyer’s guide that appeared in The Morning Call, the show sponsor newspaper, one week before the opening.
Not to be overlooked was the very popular VIP Sneak Preview Party, where dealers hosted over 1,000 guests from the community and the industry. The show, preview included, also helps drive awareness of how dealer members contribute to the community.
“We have an entire week to feature good news about our industry, its products and contributions for the people of our region,” says Cusimano. “There has been a distinct increase in awareness among community leaders of how important the auto industry, the auto show and the dealer association is to the Lehigh Valley. That awareness parallels the growth of the auto show and dealer association. That fact, plus the great spring sales boost equaled another good year.”
Portland: Family-friendly initiatives support growing showIn many ways, the character of the Portland International Auto Show can be summed up in one word: family.
That’s certainly a key emphasis for Greg Remensperger and his auto show team at the Metro Portland New Car Dealers Association.
“We’re really trying to focus on the family audience and the youth side of the show,” says Remensperger.
That theme carried through in a number of other activities throughout the event, including the KinderVision national child safety program sponsored by KATU-TV, the area’s ABC affiliate. Which is not to say that show organizers overlooked the vehicles being displayed at the Portland show.
Indeed, manufacturers began to take advantage of a roomier Oregon Convention Center, which is more than 50 percent larger than last year, bringing with them the larger displays (Class B compared with Class C) the new venue allows.
At the same time, Remensperger says the transition to the larger space is ongoing in many respects.
“We’ll be making some adjustments for the next show,” he says, referring to the need for layout changes that became obvious once those larger exhibits were in place. “There are things we can do to provide better flow in and around the food area, for example. We’ve already met with the convention center to discuss how things can be done better next year.”
The additional space availability has been well-received, at least judging by bookings: some 93 percent of total space has already been reserved for the late January show, with commitments on the remaining seven percent as well.
Remensperger says the public has been conditioned over the years to expect some of the best deals going.
“They know it’s an opportunity not only to see what’s available in vehicles, but to negotiate a great deal,” he says, noting that on-site test drives that began last year are continuing. “Manufacturers also kick in special features and financing to help dealers close on site.”
Even so, it’s not all about selling vehicles, as charities like the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation have discovered. By making space available at the show, the organization was able to generate awareness, and funds through the sale of donated wedding gowns.
Other charities benefited from the show’s “family friendly” theme: the show teamed up cable provider Comcast to support an outreach program to support literacy in grammar schools throughout the state. And still on the charitable front, the Portland show plans to turn a preview event into a charitable initiative, the first year benefiting the Shriners.
The auto show is also continuing to look for new ways to reach a more diverse audience, particularly those representing a growing Hispanic market. Working with Univision, one of the area’s larger television stations, organizers are working on ways to provide Spanish-speaking show visitors with on-site information and bi-lingual product display specialists.
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
11/3/2017 - 11/5/2017
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Don McNeeley, ATAE President
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Rod Alberts, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, staff reporter
Elizabeth Katz, staff reporter