ASNA Logo Volume 4, Issue 1 - November 2005
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the Auto Show Report
A compilation of news and developments for and about Auto Shows of North America. To find out more, visit


Industry News
  • China’s Geely picks NAIAS as entry point to U.S.
  • Motor Trend signs New Mexico show
  • New Orleans show keeps dates, moves to convention center
  • Design Los Angeles gears up for last of January shows
  • Nissan to move headquarters to Nashville
  • GNYADA opens training facility, conference center
  • NAIAS to launch “EyesOn Design”
  • Three U.S. shows to receive OICA certification
  • Ron Williams retires from GPJ

    Sponsor Profiles

  • Motor Trend continues to grow, improve
  • Productions Plus says beauty and brains are key to success

    Show Profiles

  • Alabama proves auto shows continue to drive sales
  • Albany crowds swarm to state plaza show in spite of good weather
  • Auto Show Underground big hit at California show
  • Northwest buzzes again after successful Seattle show

    Show Directory

  • Alphabetical listing of ASNA shows and dates for 2005-2006

    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.

    China’s Geely picks NAIAS as entry point to U.S.

    China’s Geely, the first private venture of its type to receive government endorsement, is coming to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

    And Exhibit Works, an Auto Shows of North America supporting sponsor, is helping Geely puts its best corporate foot forward in the highly-competitive U.S. market.

    A relative newcomer to the auto industry (Geely’s first car was produced in 1998), the company began as a manufacturer of refrigerator parts; by 1994 it was producing motorcycles. Today the highly-diversified company also has three colleges and a private university authorized to grant diplomas in Beijing.

    Geely's Haoqing is one of a handful of models the Chinese automaker has unveiled in recent years.

    As the first Chinese automaker to display at the NAIAS, Geely is once again breaking ground, as it has in one of the world’s largest markets—by “making the best cars that ordinary people can afford.”

    Rod Alberts, NAIAS executive director, says the show is thrilled that Geely has selected the NAIAS as its entry point for a growing range of vehicles.

    “Our visitors have come to expect all the world has to offer when it comes to automotive innovation. What could be a better example of that than a ‘people’s car’ from one of the world’s largest markets?”

    Motor Trend signs New Mexico show

    The third annual New Mexico International Auto Show will be produced by Motor Trend Auto Shows (MTAS). The April 20-23, 2006 event will be held at the Albuquerque Convention Center and becomes the 18th MTAS-produced auto show. Charles Henson, president of the New Mexico Auto Dealers Association, said the MTAS alliance “represents significant industry-wide acceptance” for the New Mexico show. John Marriott, vice president and general manager at MTAS, says New Mexico fits with the overall vision of Motor Trend. “We recognized the New Mexico show as a fast-growing show with a very desirable market demographic, a beautiful convention center and an involved, enthusiastic planning committee – three of the key elements that make a show attractive to us.”

    New Orleans show keeps dates, moves to convention center

    In the aftermath of the devastating hurricane season, New Orleans is not only keeping its auto show dates – it’s getting more space. “The Greater New Orleans International Auto Show was bursting at the seams in the Superdome,” says Jeffrie Schultis Fricke, who manages the show, in announcing a move to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. “We will utilize an additional 75,000 square feet, giving us 230,000 square feet.” The dates – March 23-25, 2006 – remain the same. Shultis Fricke said she is working on a space draw date and new floor plans and will communicate those details to manufacturers as soon as possible. In the meantime, Schultis Fricke can be reached at 504.831.8863 or:

    Design Los Angeles gears up for last of January shows

    Chris Bangle

    As Design Los Angeles looks to its second year as an important component of the Los Angeles Auto Show, organizers have confirmed the participation of Chris Bangle, BMW’s chief of design, as opening speaker for the Jan. 5, 2006 event. Bangle oversees the design studios for BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce MC as well as for BMW Motorrad - BMW’s motorcycle division - and BMW M, the subsidiary that designs limited edition high performance models of normal BMW production vehicles.

    In other Design L.A. news, a theme is set for the conference Design Challenge – an exercise in free-thinking which allows designers the chance to explore ideas and stretch their imaginations without the restriction of production disciplines. Organizers call it a reflection of the myriad of lifestyle, sporting and cultural activities that are inherent to the Southern California landscape.

    Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company’s new president of the Americas, will be keynote speaker at the L.A. Auto Show/Motor Press Guild event Jan. 4, 2006. The upcoming LA Auto Show is the last to be held in January. The next L.A. show will take place Dec. 1-10, 2006 (media days Nov. 29-30).

    Nissan to move headquarters to Nashville

    Nissan North America, currently headquartered in Southern California, will be heading east to Williamson County, a fast-growing suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. The move, which will affect about 1,300 people, is being made for competitive reasons, including lower real estate and business taxes. CEO Carlos Ghosn, who announced the headquarters relocation, said he expects about half the California employees to move to Tennessee. Tom Libby, an automotive analyst with J.D. Power and Associates, said the move breaks a monopoly Southern California has had on the Asian operations. Nissan’s move will include a $70 million investment in a new headquarters building, which is expected to be completed by 2008. The first employees will transfer next summer and work out of temporary quarters in downtown Nashville. Nissan has a plant in Smyrna and an engine plant in Decherd, employing more than 7,000 employees in Tennessee.

    GNYADA opens training facility, conference center

    The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which owns the New York International Auto Show, has opened the Center for Automotive Education & Training, a state-of-the-art, 90,000 square foot facility located in Whitestone, near LaGuardia Airport. The facility is open to a wide range of business meetings and conferences related to the automotive industry. A grand opening was held Oct. 31, 2005. The center is at

    NAIAS to launch “EyesOn Design”

    Giorgetto Giugiaro

    The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will close out the upcoming press preview days with a new design award program on Jan. 10, 2006. “EyesOn Design,” presented by the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, will feature an impressive jury, lead by design legend Tom Gale, and will include a wide range of designers from manufacturers, design schools and independents, as well as retired designers. Willie G. Davidson (Harley Davidson); Giorgetto Giugiaro (ItalDesign); and Michael Graves (Michael Graves & Associates) will be presenting judges for the event. “EyesOn Design is a major program of NAIAS, and we are extremely pleased to add the new awards to our preview week activities,” said NAIAS 2006 Senior Co-Chairman Richard Genthe.

    Three U.S. shows to receive OICA certification

    The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has announced that three U.S. auto shows have been approved for international certification.

    At a recent meeting in Sydney, Australia, the Paris-based Organisation Internationale Des Constructeurs D'Automobiles (OICA) approved the certification for the Chicago, Los Angeles and New York auto shows.

    In accordance with the agreement, these shows will rotate the OICA accreditation on an annual basis. They will join the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto as the only recognized OICA shows in North America.

    "We view this as a tremendous opportunity to highlight our products and our industry to the international automotive press corps," said Fred Webber, Alliance President and CEO. "These are all unique, world-class auto shows and I am very pleased that our colleagues at OICA recognized the diversity of our industry and agreed to this arrangement."

    The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of nine car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen. For more information on advanced fuel-savings technology, visit the Alliance website at

    Ron Williams retires from GPJ

    Ron Williams

    As most readers of ASNA's "The Auto Show Report" prepare to enter yet another auto show season, Ron Williams, former executive vice president of the George P. Johnson Company (GPJ), will enter retirement after 40 years with the Detroit-based exhibit and event marketing firm.

    Williams made many, many friends in the shows/events and exhibit business in Detroit and around the world. Williams is known in business for his integrity, but also for his willingness to help those younger and less experienced. He was always willing to lend a hand to or take a chance on those who showed promise, but needed a break, says friend John Tulloch, GPJ senior vice president of client services, who worked alongside Williams for the last 12 years.

    "Ron was generous - with his time and his advice," says Tulloch. "Sometimes it went unnoticed, and he preferred it that way. Ron looked out for people and their best interests, and particularly their career path."

    Friends and colleagues alike find themselves looking back with fond memories of Williams, who made such an impact on the show industry and personified the company he came to love and represent with distinction. And yet Williams was not a Johnson. Or a Stubbs. Or a Gentile.

    "He was, by far and away, the most successful non-family member in our company," says Tulloch.

    Williams also earned a reputation as being trans-generational in the company.

    "Younger people really enjoyed his company, and his wisdom," says Tulloch. "But so did the veterans. He was very connected; Ron had a special touch and respected others."

    Williams is also a fan of poker and was not above using some of the strategies in business that make a great player in the game.

    "He was great at poker. And cards too," quips Tulloch.

    Over the years, Williams played a prominent role in bringing in new business to the global events company.

    "Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Honda … the list goes on," says Tulloch. "There were also non-automotive clients that came on board as a result of Ron's leadership."

    Still, as he settles into retirement, folks like John Tulloch are paying the ultimate compliment to someone whose heart and soul went into building relationships and translating those into value for the organization he called home.

    "He'll be missed. More than we'll ever know."

    Editor's Note: send congratulations and good wishes to Ron Williams at

    Motor Trend continues to grow, improve

    For Motor Trend Auto Shows, already the largest producer of auto shows and events in the nation, the addition of the New Mexico International Auto Show – on the schedule for April 20-23, 2006 – is one more example of how the organization continues to grow and succeed in its leadership position.

    With the addition of New Mexico, Motor Trend now produces some 18 shows, a feat its vice president and general manager says is reflective of continued client satisfaction as well as the organization’s ability to deliver on its promises.

    John Marriott

    “We continue to nurture and build our client relationships and value the fact that in addition to maintaining our existing shows, we have won contracts for three new shows,” says John Marriott.

    While Marriott is obviously pleased with the ability of Motor Trend to extend its reach, he’s more often thinking of ways that he can continue attracting public show goers to the events themselves. And one key way for that to happen is with more “Ride and Drive” events.

    “It’s one of the things that we’re having a lot of success with this year,” says Marriott. “More shows than ever before will have a Ride and Drive component to them, which is really reflective of a desire among manufacturers to have a more interactive experience with those attending a show.”

    Indeed, MTAS has increased the number of such events from two to eight in the current season.

    Clients, says Marriott, are seeing value in the experience and are increasing their participation even more.

    Increasingly, events like this Ride and Drive (sponsored by Volvo at the California International Auto Show in Anaheim) are finding their way into more and more Motor Trend Auto Shows.

    However, making that happen requires a good deal of work, especially since not all show venues have the real estate conducive to include a Ride and Drive experience.

    “In those cases, we’ll work to put in place a shuttle service that takes show goers to the area where the actual drive takes place,” says Marriott.

    Another hot topic at an increasing number of Motor Trend shows is the Ride Revamp – a “remake” of a vehicle that brings together a number of sponsors, including aftermarket parts and accessories companies.

    The idea quickly takes hold, especially when it includes partnerships with a local radio station – giving people the opportunity to call in for a chance to win tickets to the show and, for one lucky person, to win the vehicle itself.

    “There’s a lot of excitement and energy that’s generated,” says Marriott. “And a great deal of news coverage as the revamped car is unveiled and throughout the whole giveaway component.”

    Marriott is extending the Ride Revamp program’s use of new vehicles and is having discussions with a number of manufacturers as the concept increases in popularity.

    Just two of the vehicles Motor Trend Auto Shows is bringing to its 18 events as part of a collection from the pages of its sister publications. Shown are the 1970 Goodmark Camaro and a 1933 Ford Roadster.

    Motor Trend show attendees can also look forward to yet another innovation, this time capitalizing on the obvious synergies that exist with Primedia publications such as Corvette Fever, Mustang & Fords, Super Chevy and others.

    “We’re taking seven high-visibility project cars out of the magazines and bringing them to the shows,” says Marriott.

    Motor Trend Auto Shows has split the entourage into two groups of four and three.

    “At the front part of the season, we’ll have a west coast and east coast tour,” says Marriott. “Further in the season, when the shows don’t overlap, we’ll bring all seven vehicles together to close things out.”

    The vehicle tour, he says, is a way for Motor Trend to leverage its corporate connection to the Primedia publications.

    “It’s an example of our ability to work with the magazines to bring very high value to our shows. These are exhibition quality vehicles.”

    Marriott also says Motor Trend Auto Shows is continually looking for ways to bring additional value to its events, which is reflective of an ongoing desire among manufacturers. “They’re looking for fresh ideas,” he notes. “They want to see visitors being able to interact with vehicles in ways that they haven’t before.”

    One of those “fresh ideas” is the Ford Live Build, which will take place in San Diego. The concept plays off shows like TV’s Overhaulin’ where attendees can watch and learn from the build process.

    Looking ahead, Marriott predicts a continued push in that direction. He also sees shows working harder to deliver more information about who is actually attending the events.

    “Exhibitors are looking for whatever data we can provide them,” says Marriott. “They want to know what people are saying about the vehicles on display, what’s their favorite, and so forth.”

    Motor Trend is also incorporating survey data into its benchmarking practice, thus making it easier for those 18 shows to compare individual performance.

    “We’ve taken a couple of big steps forward in that regard, especially regarding the sophistication of the surveys we do,” says Marriott. “Still, we’re trying to move that even further forward. It’s something that’s ongoing.”

    Productions Plus says beauty and brains are key to success

    Like any good entrepreneur, Margery Krevsky saw a better way. And acted on it.

    The year was 1981 and the founder of Productions Plus had recently transplanted to Michigan from a job as fashion director for New York City-based Glamour magazine.

    Training facilitator Ken Paul and Hedy Popson, Productions Plus vice president of training.

    “I had been to the auto show, and I’d watched the presenters work,” recalls Krevsky. “At the time, I felt we could raise the bar.”

    Krevsky and then-partner Harriett Fuller, who had been a top model in New York and Detroit, set about to change the industry, perhaps not realizing what an uphill climb it would be. Her first automotive client was Nissan, followed by Pontiac.

    But getting her foot in the door was no easy feat.

    “It took us about two years of pitching the idea that we could take good, educated people with communication skills and train them to reflect the culture of the company and really ‘talk car,’” says Krevsky.

    Today, about 80 percent of Productions Plus work is automotive-related, with a client base that includes Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Nissan, Infiniti, Honda, Acura, Mitsubishi, Mercedes, Porsche and General Motors.

    Productions Plus employs about 200 to 300 presenters, thanks in large part to the efforts of Olga Denysenko, whose job as the company’s talent development director is to fill a growing demand for presenters that annually work some 60 to 70 auto shows.

    Handling the overall automotive program is Jennifer Wells, Productions Plus vice president.

    “We take good talented people and create benchmark product specialists for our clients,” says Wells. “They live the brand.”

    While Krevsky acknowledges that presenters may have been tagged with the “eye candy” reputation, it’s also a view that’s changing, especially as vehicles become more complex and customers crave serious discussions at the auto show venue.

    Margery Krevsky

    “Many of the people we train to do the national circuit usually know more than the sales people in the dealerships,” says Krevsky. “It’s our job to maximize the effectiveness of the people that are hired to represent the manufacturers.”

    Hedy Popson, vice president and director of training, concurs.

    “One of our strengths is the ability to create training sessions for our teams. When they finish they know the brand.”

    So looks aren’t important?

    Krevsky wouldn’t go quite that far.

    “Certainly we’d like to have people that are nice looking. But almost anyone can be attractive.”

    It’s one reason Productions Plus has a full wardrobe department. And an image consultant.

    “Presenters today are challenged to do it all,” says Krevsky. “They need excellent communication skills and it’s always a bonus if they already have experience in the automotive area. We’ve even hired engineers and marketing people.”

    One reason for the firm’s ongoing success is its ability to use local talent to augment a national team.

    “We usually have people right at that location that can step in, especially for lead generation,” says Krevsky. “We’re able to bring in a core of people who know the vehicle inside and out and train the local people.”

    'Almost anyone can be attractive,' says Productions Plus founder Margery Krevsky.

    The result, she says, is a more effective use of the resource.

    “It’s certainly less travel cost for the client,” says Krevsky.

    Another change is in the way training is done.

    “It used to be that training was done maybe once or twice a year,” says Krevsky. “That’s also changed and we have a year-round training program that keeps presenters – whether they’re local or not – up to speed on vehicles that are constantly evolving and improving.”

    Yet throughout the history of Productions Plus, Krevsky’s vision has remained true.

    “We saw how people in the industry were spending a lot of money on the exhibits themselves,” she says. “Yet it’s the one-on-one contact that really makes the difference. That’s as true today as it ever was.”

    Alabama proves auto shows continue to drive sales

    Brett McBrayer will tell you his initial conversation with representatives from Toyota at the 2005 Auto Shows of North America Summer Meeting paid off.

    It was there that McBrayer, president of the Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association, and organizer of the Alabama International Auto Show, first expressed an interest in hosting one of Toyota Trucks Off Road On Site Adventure.

    The result was McBrayer snagging one of the first of a 12-city tour of the Toyota production, which gives show goers an opportunity of “test driving” company products in a realistic environment.

    Brett McBrayer (right) with Albama Governor Bob Riley at the auto show.

    “It went very well, indeed,” says McBrayer. “That’s what it’s all about at the auto show.”

    In preparing for the show, held Nov. 3-6, 2005, McBrayer pulled out all the stops as far as marketing the event was concerned.

    “We went out to a ridiculously-expanded market area,” he says.

    Well maybe not so ridiculous, although McBrayer reached out to outlying cities such as Montgomery, Ala., and as far away as Chattanooga, Tenn., nearly 150 miles away.

    “We wanted to throw everything at it,” says McBrayer.

    And for good reason. As has been the case in many markets, the month previous wasn’t breaking any sales records.

    “The market has been way off,” says McBrayer. “We had the worst October in the last 20 years.”

    Using a combination of online, plus newspaper, cable TV, and radio advertising, show organizers were able to realize steady attendance throughout the event.

    Making it memorable. Picture taking at the Alabama International Auto Show.

    The “Sweet Show Alabama” tagline helped with the marketing efforts.

    “It’s a broad-based message that gives us a lot of flexibility,” says McBrayer. “We didn’t want to push things in any one direction.”

    Notable highlights of the Alabama show included the Pontiac Solstice display, made even more special in that attendees were getting their first glimpse of a vehicle that would shortly be in dealer showrooms.

    “Being able to purchase the vehicle three days later was pretty neat,” says McBrayer.

    In addition to what amounted to “first see” vehicle displays, the show featured an appearance by the Alabama Ballet, which did an excerpt from the Nutcracker Suite.

    Children attending had their own three-day event that featured appearances by Batman (from Batman Returns), carnival games, and even a hands-on science presentation – all while their parents went car shopping, of course.

    Brett McBrayer welcomes the Tampa Bay Cheerleaders back to the auto show. Ford's Bronco concept is in the background.

    Returning features included the Tampa Bay Cheerleaders – for the third consecutive year.

    The overall results?

    McBrayer says he’s already hearing dealers report “hundreds of leads and lots of cars being sold.” And he has his own theories why shows like his drive dealer traffic and produce an upswing in sales.

    “It’s the same as when you get into a showroom,” he says. “People get excited when they see the new cars in front of them. They’re hard to resist, especially when you realize they’re a lot better looking than what you drove in with. And you can’t do that in a TV ad or radio commercial and certainly not in a newspaper.”

    Profile: Alabama International Auto Show

    Nov. 3-5, 2005

    Next year:
    Nov. 9-12, 2006

    Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex

    Exhibit Space:
    275,000 square feet

    $7 adults, $3.50 children (12 and under), $12 family of four (with coupon). Complimentary for military, city, county or manufacturer employee.

    Show Hours:
    Thursday, noon-10 pm; Friday and Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, noon to 6 pm.

    Show Contact:
    Brett McBrayer, ATAE
    President, Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association 205.739.0901

    Show Web site:

    Albany crowds swarm to state plaza show in spite of good weather

    Winter in the north seems to be slow in coming and that suits Kim Perrella, managing director of the Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers, and auto show manager of the Empire State Plaza Auto Show.

    The event, which ran Nov. 4-6, 2005, is one of two produced by Perrella and ENYCAR; a second event – the Albany Auto Show - runs April 7-9, 2006.

    The Empire State Plaza event is decidedly different, one reason being its public access venue – and free attendance.

    But back to the weather. Perrella admits her first reaction to the unseasonably warm weather was: “We’re doomed.”

    “We thought people would opt to do other things. Instead, we had the best attendance we’ve had in many years.”

    Making sure everything will fit is what show goers like these are up to at the Empire State Plaza show in Albany.

    Indeed, parking lots were jammed throughout the three days of the show, which includes a huge influx of state workers who took their lunch break in what amounts to an underground mall linking state facilities.

    “There had to be between 10,000 and 15,000 state workers flow through the show on Friday alone,” says Perrella, who adds that the surge in attendance throughout the show has breathed new life into the dealership community.

    “We’ve just come off a bad month for all makes and models,” says Perrella. “Where we had dealers being down in the dumps, this turned things around.”

    She adds that lowering gas prices also helped car sales, even though the show is not a selling event.

    “People made appointments to see the dealers, though,” says Perrella.

    Some of the excitement may be due to the “dressing up” of what is a rather drab 50,000 square feet of space.

    “It’s an area that is used as a walkway,” says Perrella. “It’s pretty unexciting most of the time and especially since the state has reduced the lighting for conservation reasons.”

    Add a couple of hundred lights and decorations that include bold manufacturer signs and the place begins to liven up.

    “We deliberately did that at the beginning of the week, which helped generate attention and excitement,” says Perrella.

    Pontiac Solstice

    Even with the tight quarters – turntables are out of the question – cars like the new Pontiac Solstice plus a variety of the increasingly popular hybrids had people talking openly about how they enjoyed the show.

    Albany’s two shows a year situation may be, in part, due to the lack of a convention facility in what is, after all, the state capital.

    “We’re the only major city in New York that doesn’t have a convention center. But we do what we can with two shows,” says Perrella.

    What may have started out as a necessity is likely to continue even if and when Albany gets its own convention space. (Perrella has been with the show for 16 years and has heard promises every year since.)

    “What’s really nice about the two shows is that we hit two different time periods,” she says. “It’s nice to have the ability to showcase cars twice, especially since some are introduced at different times.”

    Even more significant is the audience each show attracts.

    “We’ve done the research and what’s apparent is that they are two totally different crowds,” says Perrella.

    Profile: Empire State Plaza Auto Show

    Nov. 4-6, 2005

    Next Year:
    Nov. 3-5, 2006

    Empire State Plaza

    Exhibit Space:
    Little over 50,000 square feet


    Show Hours:
    Fri.: 9 am-9 pm; Sat.: 11 am-7 pm; Sun.: 11 am-6 pm.

    Show Contact:
    Kim Perrella, auto show manager, 518.452.0584, ext. 202

    Show Website:

    Auto Show Underground big hit at California show

    With show space typically being at premium for most auto shows, there’s undoubtedly those who will find interest in how organizers of the California International Auto Show were able to get around that little problem.

    Look down.

    The California International Auto Show continues to attract its share of crowds in one of the season's first events.

    “We came up with an additional 140,000 square feet, space that was in a level of the Anaheim Convention Center that wasn’t being used,” says John Sackrison, executive director of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association.

    Hence, Auto Show Underground.

    Sackrison, who shares show executive duties with Todd Leutheuser, executive director of the Southland Motor Car Dealers Association, says the forward investment that readied the space for the show is already paying off.

    “It’s a first-year event and we’re very pleased with how things went,” says Sackrison. “While it wasn’t quite break even, our idea was to fill the space and go from there.”

    And fill it they did.

    Jammed with all manner of accessories, customized cars, classics, muscle cars and even exotics, the area was a big hit for all ages.

    “We definitely made an impact, and not just on the younger crowd,” says Leutheuser. “There were a good cross section of people who made some very positive comments about Auto Show Underground.”

    It’s an idea that both Sackrison and Leutheuser say their colleagues throughout Auto Shows of North America would find worthy of their consideration.

    “It’s important for this and every show to freshen things up each year with new attractions like Auto Show Underground,” says Sackrison. “The manufacturers expect and appreciate it, and the consumers – who are pulled in dozens of other directions by competing events – need it, or they’ll simply go elsewhere. Getting people in the door and in front of our customers’ products is what we’re about, and we’re doing a better job at that every year.”

    The idea, Sackrison says, is contagious.

    “I think it will spread,” he says. “It’s an element that draws additional interest, even if they have to devote a portion of their existing space. It provides something new and exciting.”

    Auto Show Underground was a first time success for the California International Auto Show.

    Leutheuser agrees.

    “Auto Show Underground injected a new level of energy into the California International Auto Show. And it gave us a great opportunity to add some very attractive elements in a way that people understood and felt good about.”

    As the show approached, organizers rapidly built up media interest — which ultimately translated into favorable publicity and gate attendance — by taking the auto show on the road.

    “We brought a bit of each part of the show with us,” says Sackrison. “That even included one of the high-end exotics and some of the media people we were trying to influence got really fired up about the show coming. That was reflected in the kind of coverage we got as the show approached.”

    The first-time experience is something that California is likely to repeat.

    “Certainly it was a major initiative that made a lot of sense,” says Leutheuser. “There were a number of pre-show pieces that were broadcast and even more exciting pieces done during the show itself.”

    During the show, public concern over higher gas prices translated into interest among show goers as to the technology manufacturers were introducing — and not just in the area of hybrids.

    “The fact is, the new models using traditional engine configurations continue to get better fuel economy,” says Sackrison. “Even SUVs are getting better mileage, in some cases better than some cars were just a few years ago. That’s something people are taking an interest in.”

    Show promotional efforts included a major initiative by State Farm insurance, which brokered a deal with the auto show to pre-pay for a family pass for all their customers.

    “It was money in the door upfront,” says Sackrison, who was clearly happy with how things worked out. “By the time the redemption rate was factored in, it was about the same return as a group discount ticket. State Farm benefited in being able to offer something to their customers and we got people in the door who might not otherwise found us.”

    Profile: California International Auto Show

    Oct. 5-9, 2005

    Next Year:
    Oct. 4-8, 2006

    Anaheim Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    665,000 square feet

    Adults (13 plus), $10; Seniors (62 plus), $6; Children (7-12), $5; under 6, free

    Show Hours:
    Wed.: 4 pm-10 pm; Thurs.-Fri.: 10 am-10 pm; Sat.: 9 am-10 pm; Sun.: 9 am-7 pm

    Show Contacts:
    Todd Leutheuser, ATAE, 562.595.4326

    John Sackrison, ATAE, 714.424.6090

    Show Website:

    Northwest buzzes again after successful Seattle show

    As far as Jim Hammond is concerned, only one thing could make the Seattle International Auto Show any better. And that’s more space.

    “If I had another building, I could fill it,” says Hammond, executive director of the Puget Sound Automobile Dealers Association, which self-produces the event. “We could easily sell another 60,000 to 70,000 square feet.”

    Just what an auto show organizer likes to see: crowds.

    In some respects, the success of this year’s show, which took place Nov. 2-6, 2005, came as something of a surprise to Hammond, whose dealers have seen lower than usual activity related to pull ahead sales from employee pricing and zero percent financing.

    “We thought, ‘there’s going to be a lag somewhere along the way that catches up with you,’” says Hammond. “We really thought this was going to be the year.”

    In fact, the buzz surrounding the Seattle show has had something of a turnaround effect.

    “When you think about it, we pull in something like 13 percent of the area population into the show,” says Hammond. “That’s in a three-state area that includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho.”

    Of particular interest at this year’s show, perhaps not surprisingly with gasoline prices north of $2.50 a gallon, were hybrids.

    “The Northwest is a huge green area,” says Hammond. “Hybrids are very popular and we had lots of them.”

    Hammond also points to the wealth generated by software companies such as Microsoft as influencing the character of the Seattle show.

    Exotics? Certainly, but not necessarily out of the reach of Seattle area car shoppers.

    “Microsoft makes millionaires out of people every day,” he says. “It’s a prosperous area, which means we get a great assortment of exotic cars.”

    And not just to display.

    “People are buying them,” says Hammond, referring to brands like Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, Lotus and Aston Martin, all nameplates that were popular with show goers.

    Not to be overlooked were the “cars for the rest of us” – including concepts from Chevrolet, Toyota, Chrysler and others.

    “Plus, we had good representation from manufacturers like Porsche, Jaguar, and Land Rover – which brought a 5,000-square-foot display.”

    Hammond says people enjoyed cars from Saleen and other specialty manufacturers, the boutique vehicles people love so much.

    A media blitz estimated to have earned between 50 and 60 million impressions included advertising and special sections in five major metropolitan papers in the area plus another dozen smaller publications. Hammond estimates free publicity garnered was worth close to half a million dollars in equivalent media buys, a credit to show publicist Mark Cutshall.

    The Seattle show also included a “First Night for Charity,” a black tie preview event that saw funds raised going to support Junior Achievement of Washington (and a chance with every ticket sold to win a 2006 Toyota Hybrid Highlander).

    Future customer? You bet. Subaru gets 'em early with a simulator at the Seattle show.

    Yet another positive was a strategy that saw the Seattle show sell naming rights to State Farm Insurance. Hence, “State Farm Presents the Seattle International Auto Show.”

    Hammond says he took lessons from Tom Tonks, general manager of Toronto’s Canadian International Auto Show, who coached him on approaching sponsors.

    He appears to have earned an “A” in the class.

    “We sold 14 sponsors for this show,” says Hammond, who says a key point made by Tonks was “give before you get.”

    “It’s a mistake a lot of us make,” says Hammond. “We come with our hands out, saying ‘give us this.’ It’s the wrong way to approach sponsors. We need to come from the approach of sponsors, explaining what we can offer them – and then deliver more than they expect.”

    Profile: Seattle International Auto Show

    Nov. 2-6, 2005

    Next Year:
    First or second week of November, depending on NFL schedule (show shares building with Seattle Seahawks).

    Qwest Field Event Center

    Exhibit Space:
    500,000 square feet

    Adults, $10; Children (under 12) free

    Show Hours:
    Wed.-Fri.: noon to 10 pm; Sat.: 10 am-10 pm; Sun.: 10 am-7 pm

    Show Contact:
    Jim Hammond, ATAE, 206.542.3551

    Show Website:

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    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
    Joe Rohatynski, senior editor

    J.D. Booth, editor

  • ASNA Partners

    ASNA Manufacturing Partners