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.
Play to your strengths, AutoWeek editor urgesThe Auto Shows of North America participants who made the trip to the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino to attend the 2005 ASNA Summer Meeting heard veteran auto journalist Dutch Mandel deliver pointed advice to virtually every auto show on the continent, regardless of size or demographic.
“Play to your strengths.”
While Mandel used Jay Leno’s hilarious “Tonight Show” coverage of the North American International Auto Show as an example, the associate publisher and editor of AutoWeek did point out that Detroit’s media initiative went beyond its size or even national reputation.
“A show this size can get the national media to come and cover its news,” said Mandel. “It can get the national media to do things out of the ordinary, if the opportunity presents itself. But I’m not here to sing the praises of the big auto shows,” he said.
What he did point out was that each show (large or small) is different.
Even so, he said the “truly important auto shows” are not the big shows.
“They are all the shows that fall outside major markets,” he said. “These are the shows where more cars are sold, and that’s what counts.”
The events, said Mandel, “represent a genuine chance to get closer to the customer one-on-one.”
Car makers, show goers and dealers all understand that.
“And the local media should understand that - and if they don’t, they should be taken out behind the woodshed and have it explained,” said Mandel.
As part of his presentation to ASNA attendees, Mandel also showed how his publication “plays to its strengths” in providing coverage that monthly magazines can’t — or won’t.
“We have 300,000 very passionate readers who must be obsessive about cars and car news in order to want to read it each week,” said Mandel. “Because of our timeliness, we cover news and we cover it first.”
Mandel urged auto show organizers to capitalize on their strengths, much as AutoWeek does with its frequency and strong readership.
“If you’re in a market that is a traditionally strong truck market, highlight trucks. That may sound simple, but if you take it for granted, you’re probably missing something. Remember: the single greatest sales leader is a truck.”
Mandel also urged attendees to emphasize their cultural strengths.
“If yours is a market that has seen a surge in tuner car population, set aside space for the local turner club,” said Mandel. “With the video game generation, I guarantee this will be a big hit, and there’s always a trend story that the media can latch onto.”
Mandel also suggested auto show organizers emphasize political strength, notably in helping educate the motoring public.
“Did you know that the southeast is disproportionately more likely to have teen driving deaths than other parts of the country? Do you know that car accidents are the single greatest killer of teenagers in this country?”
Mandel said spending money to promote driver education, through programs like Driver’s Edge, a nationally-recognized training program that teaches teens accident avoidance techniques in an “MTV-style” environment.
The veteran auto journalist also urged ASNA attendees to remember the power of fantasy that goes hand in hand with auto show events.
“The auto show world is about delivering fantasy,” he said. “You are an escape capsule, an opportunity for people to visualize themselves behind the latest, greatest, biggest, sexiest, most fun utilitarian product on earth. And if you do it in a safe, sane and neutral environment, trumpet that, celebrate that, embrace that, herald that.”
Mandel said getting the word out is another challenge, something he said can be easier with media partnerships (although he cautioned against becoming too closely aligned with one media outlet).
And what about “stealing” ideas?
“There’s no such thing as a bad idea, especially one you can crib, customize and use as your own,” said Mandel.
He also encouraged the many civic minded auto show organizations to make local media aware of the philanthropic efforts through stories that help raise further awareness in the community.
“There’s a symbiotic relationship between the media and show organizers,” said Mandel. “It’s a relationship I understand. It’s one I cherish. It’s one about which I am extremely passionate. It’s also a relationship, I am sure, that the media in your markets should know is as important to them as well. But sometimes they have to be reminded of that.”
Anaheim show goes “underground”Soaring gas prices and a continuing push for cleaner air are bound to be on the agenda for California motorists, especially those attending the upcoming California International Auto Show at the Anaheim Convention Center - October 5-9, 2005.
With that in mind, organizers opened their doors to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
“We felt that with the advent of advanced hybrid technologies, the time was right for the AQMD to help the many people attending our show see for themselves what progress is being made,” says Leutheuser, who is also co-chair of Auto Shows of North America.
John Sackrison, executive director of the Orange County Auto Dealers Association, says an extensive CIAS press day agenda will ultimately catch the imagination of the motoring public as journalists spread the word on what they see at the show.
Sackrison pointed to various press announcements and introductions from GM, Volvo, Dodge, Ford, and Saleen among others.
During the public days of the show, visitors will likely find themselves gravitating toward Auto Show Underground, a 140,000 square foot section devoted to accessories, tuner vehicles, exotics and all manner of after-market automotive activities.
“Customizing vehicles in southern California isn’t just commonplace in one age group,” says Sackrison, whose organization co-owns the CIAS with the Southland Motor Car Dealers Association. “We’re even seeing soccer moms with 22-inch MOMO rims. It’s really something.”
Along with the product showcase, Auto Show Underground will feature entertainment, says Sackrison. “We’re bringing in popular DJs and giving it very much a club feel.”
The CIAS will also, for the first time, be holding a Premiere Night, with dealers being the primary distributors for tickets to the event, held on opening night of the show.
“We’ll have a number of high-end hourly giveaways, such as hotel spa packages and i-Pod Nanos, to make it even more special,” says Sackrison.
Cincinnati looks forward to expanded convention centerThe expression “there’s always next year” might mean more to Ace Ammann than others in the auto show community, one reason being the 2006 auto show (late February) will see the addition of another 35,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Cincinnati Convention Center (now renamed the Cinergy Center).
Which, of course, meant that previous shows were a little tight, especially due to the construction going on that produced the expansion.
“It did take away some of the floor space,” explains Ammann, a challenge that he took in stride.
“We assured all of the manufacturers that they’d be taken care of,” says Ammann.
In the meantime, the upcoming show has already absorbed most of the extra space.
Whatever the reason, Ammann says he’s taking it in stride.
“Concept vehicles are a double-edged sword,” says Ammann. “Yes, they do bring people in, but dealers like having cars on display that people can actually buy.”
Perhaps more importantly, the mix of vehicles didn’t seem to hurt the show.
Indeed, paid attendance was the largest-ever.
One factor in that success appears to be a partnership with Kroger grocery stores, which, for the third year running sells “tickets” (actually simply a cash register line item) for the auto show.
“People just use their cash register receipt to get in the door,” says Ammann. “It’s neat and clean and we don’t have to worry about tickets being distributed to the stores.”
Kroger benefits from the extensive advertising done by the Cincinnati show in promoting the ticket sales.
Some 30 percent of ticket sales for the Cincinnati show are directly attributed to the exclusive arrangement with Kroger, says Ammann.
Other show promotions include a two-for-one ticket offer on Thursday and Friday afternoons, traditionally the slower times for the event.
Aside from those inducements to attendees, Ammann and organizers were able to secure the appearance of Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who was on hand for autographs.
And, of course, there’s the gala preview, held on opening night, and featuring cocktails hot hors d’oeuvres (and access to the entire convention center). Proceeds for the $50 event go to support the local children’s hospital.
In Charlotte, it's media remotes and NASCAR focusLoretta Allman sees the media as being key to generating healthy attendance figures for the Charlotte International Auto Show.
With two of the area’s four TV stations and five radio stations in the region setting up cameras and microphones at the fall event, Allman, executive director of the Greater Charlotte Automobile Dealers Association, says she and show producer Dick Lewis will be trying to increase that number this year.
“It does draw people in,” says Allman. “Especially when the stations are hearing about the event on a constant basis.”
One example of a strong media presence was the Charlotte ABC affiliate with its “live on location” – a series of 90-second spots that were actually taped on Thursday and shown on Saturday morning.
On the radio side, a remote broadcast featuring syndicated morning show “The Big Show Now” (with John Boy and Billy) was a highlight of last year’s event.
Even so, the promotional work with media isn’t limited to broadcast, either radio or television.
“We have great sponsorships from area media, including the new Latino weekly newspaper, ‘Que Pasa,’” says Allman.
Consistent with the sponsorship thrust is the fact that the auto show is very much a community event.
Furthering that, show organizers bring in a number of high school bands, many of which march throughout the show;
Other notable attractions include the appearance of perennial favorites such as the Shriner’s band and clowns (the tie-in being the auto show’s support of the organization’s Children’s Hospital efforts).
The show also holds a Family Day on Sunday, perhaps best known for the appearance of all the area sports mascots, including the Charlotte Panther’s “Sir Purr,” as well as face painting and clowns.
Allman says she’s working hard to strengthen the obvious tie-ins with the NASCAR community (some 75 percent of drivers live within 50 miles of Charlotte).
That includes a lobbying effort to see the NASCAR Hall of Fame be established in Charlotte, although several other cities are being considered.
While Allman says the auto show includes a remote NASCAR track during its four days, she’d like to see more.
“We’re trying to get an event going in combination with the Chamber of Commerce and its Business After Hours program” says Allman.
In the meantime, organizers are concentrating on the ongoing development of the Charlotte International Auto Show, including ways to enlist media interest.
When she saw the network TV success of the North American International Auto Show, Allman immediately approached the Charlotte Fox affiliate with a similar initiative.
“They’re going to go around interviewing people at our show,” says Allman.
What she hopes is to turn the auto show into an event that media will talk about throughout the week, something that’s not without precedent.
“We have a Greek festival here and the media will talk about it every day,” says Allman. “We’d like to see the same thing happening with the auto show.”
Dallas works hard to ‘make room’ for exhibitorsNooks and crannies.
For Jo McKinley, the auto show veteran who’s been managing the Dallas Auto Show for 30 years, space is one of her biggest issues, even as she recalls the early days of the event where 80,000 square feet was all she had to sell.
“It’s something we’re very proud of,” says McKinley. “We’ve grown from a show that barely had a light tower to some of the most fantastic exhibits people will see anywhere.”
That includes a great showing of concept cars, says McKinley. “It’s what makes the show. It’s what people come to see.”
While Dallas is, like most auto shows, a non-selling event, McKinley is clear that the most successful dealers are those who use the show to gather and follow up on leads generated.
The “business first” attitude is underscored in a deliberate decision not to go “family” (as in children’s characters others may use as a crowd draw).
“We don’t do it,” says McKinley. “It might sound a bit hokey, but we really believe the cars are the stars of our show.”
“We recognize that some manufacturers just can’t bring in a huge exhibit for just five days,” McKinley acknowledges. “But still, we’ve had phenomenal support from manufacturers.”
McKinley credits the media with helping the organizers, which consists of just four staff in total, drive attendance.
“We put the show up for bid to media partners, including TV and radio,” says McKinley. “We make the choice based on reach and effect and the amount of promotion that the media can provide on site, before and during the show.”
McKinley points to a very successful preview party that benefited “Earning by Learning,” an incentive-based Dallas organization that encourages children to read. Some 53,000 children have read more than 500,000 books in the program.
Bad weather in Dayton? 'Bring it,' says McCallWeather: It may be one of the single most influential factors affecting auto show attendance. Just ask Mike McCall, executive vice president of the Dayton Area Automobile Dealers Association and organizer of the Dayton Auto Show.
“A bad weather day on Friday was one of our highlights,” says McCall in talking about his most recent show.
Obviously, the weather encountered at an auto show will depend on the geographic region.
“Unfortunately, it’s spring break time,” says McCall. “That means that if the weather is too nice, people are off doing other things.”
So when it’s not so nice – as it was on the Friday of the Dayton show – crowds flock to the attached garage and walkways of the Dayton Convention Center.
Still, there better be something inside for them to flock to, but that’s the role of McCall and his team, something they do quite successfully.
“We had quite a few hybrids to show,” says McCall, recalling gas prices that had been creeping up. “Now they’re going up dramatically,” he notes, perhaps a prediction of the impact the gas sippers may have on interest in the upcoming season.
On the other hand, powerful vehicles such as Chrysler’s SRT-8 were there to whet the appetite as well.
“That vehicle got a lot of attention,” says McCall, recalling that people were lined up four and five deep to view the Chrysler offering.
Additional highlights include popular vehicles such as the Ford GT and the Jeep Commander concept.
McCall was also able to coax a Maserati dealer from Cincinnati to set up a display at the Dayton show.
“We don’t have a dealer in the Dayton area, so it didn’t take away business from our area,” says McCall. “Having them here did attract some people to the show.”
With a price tag starting at $125,000, most – but not all – were lookers, even though the show is a non-selling event.
“The Maserati dealer tells us that they did get two very solid leads from the show.”
New York reaches out – around the block and the worldMark Schienberg continues to prove two things in his role as president of the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association, owner of the New York Auto Show.
One is that the Big Apple is truly one of the world’s great cities.
Another is that it is just that – “one” city among many that make up a whole of automotive expositions.
It’s why Schienberg in 2004 teamed up with the Paris Auto Show to cross promote both events, and why his team traveled to Geneva to promote the 2005 New York Show among international journalists likely to make the trip stateside.
Even before the upcoming auto show season was ramping up, Schienberg was looking ahead – geographically as well as at the calendar – this time to the Tokyo Auto Show, where New York representatives will have a planned presence. Tokyo organizers will also have a press event at the 2006 NYIAS. It’s a strategy, Schienberg says, that recognizes the increasing importance of auto shows to an industry facing its own unique challenges.
“Auto shows have really undergone a tremendous maturing process,” says Schienberg. “It’s no longer about just putting cars on carpets. We need to make sure that the investment manufacturers and media are putting into the events are generating the kind of return they expect.”
For Schienberg, that means using the strengths of a city to build value in the industry.
“Every city has something important to offer and that’s the market’s ability to sell cars,” he says. “In the case of New York, we also are home to hundreds of media outlets and the center of the world’s financial community. With that in mind, we have an opportunity to showcase ideas that may start here and go out to other markets.”
At the same time, an expansion of the New York show – across the street from 11th Avenue – has allowed even more events, such as the Mazda Outdoor Experience and a SEMA-style automotive aftermarket exhibition, to reach one of the country’s largest auto show audiences, an initiative spearheaded by NYIAS Director Candida Romanelli.
New York continues to use not only the public show days but a week prior to that as a way for manufacturers, media and suppliers to meet in what has become an industry forum, with the automotive industry as one of the focal points.
“We ask ourselves ‘what do these people – the industry and the media – need to get their jobs done?,” said Romanelli. “And then we try to bring those together in a way that helps both.”
One event – the Global Automotive Week Awards Dinner– featured, among others, DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche (then head of Chrysler Group) and DaimlerChrysler board member Jurgen Hubbert.
Another, the Television Bureau of Advertising’s 2005 Annual Marketing Conference, included keynote addresses from ABC’s Barbara Walters, Steve Sturm, vice president of North America Planning at Toyota, and Alan Frank, president and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations.
The list also included the 2005 edition of a National Automotive Technology Competition, again underscoring the visibility of New York City.
Even as the public show itself evolves, Romanelli says technology is playing an increasingly important role, especially as show organizers deliver improvements to the show goers experience.
“With the installation of electronic ticketing kiosks, we saw 16 percent of ticket sales being handled this way,” says Romanelli. “People don’t like carrying a lot of cash with them; this is a major way to help people with the process of buying tickets – and it’s really taking off.”
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
John Lyboldt, ATAE President
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Todd Leutheuser, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor