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.
GM’s Rhadigan takes on new roleTerry Rhadigan, formerly director of global auto shows and events for GM, has taken on a new role with the automaker — director of vehicle sales, service and marketing communications.
In his previous role, Rhadigan was widely considered to be a friend of the industry — and someone who could be counted on to both contribute ideas and offer constructive criticism.
“Terry was fantastic to work with and we’ll miss him in a number of ways, not least of which is being able to bounce ideas off him,” said John Sackrison, co-director of the California International Auto Show. “He provided us and others I’m sure with some very valuable input regarding our direction as a show. He brought a lot of energy to the auto show environment, especially in the development of press conferences, which as we all know are so important in gaining the interest of media, and by extension, the buying public.”
Replacing Rhadigan in the auto show position is Stefan Weinmann, who formerly worked in manufacturing and labor relations communications.
GM’s new auto show director is all about consistencyStefan Weinmann, GM’s new staff director of global auto shows and events is hardly a veteran, but he does have a sense of mission. Weinmann, who took over for Terry Rhadigan on Feb. 1, 2006, says number one on his list is to bring a higher level of consistency to GM’s auto show presence, notably at the major worldwide events in which the automaker participates, but ultimately to the dozens of events in North America as well.
A native of Germany, where he worked for GM Europe, Weinmann most recently handled communications for manufacturing, labor relations and purchasing. He says improving GM’s consistency of appearance at auto shows will help journalists covering the events and, by extension, the buying public. There may also be economies of scale achieved from having the consistent image at all shows at which GM has a presence.
While Weinmann says it’s too early to be specific about what the move to become “more consistent” will mean in practice, he does say the intention is not to be “prescriptive” — meaning he’ll be looking for opportunities to blend rather than to seek wholesale changes.
MTAS opens Detroit officeMotor Trend Auto Shows, Inc. (MTAS) has opened an office in Detroit. The office will be managed by Lisa Gelb, executive director of marketing and sales, who is relocating from Los Angeles. Gelb, who has been with MTAS for 10 years, has developed several new auto show programs, including Ride and Drives, the Motor Trend Showcase of favorite concept cars, car giveaways and live builds. Gelb is now headquartered in the Primedia office in downtown Detroit.
"Lisa's presence in our Detroit office is essential to our goal of working more closely with the major automotive manufacturers,” said John Marriott, MTAS senior vice president and general manager. “We will be better able to leverage the close relationship that our Detroit-based magazine publishers have with these same manufacturers to create integrated marketing programs that include our events, magazines, Web sites, TV and radio programs, and licensed merchandise.”
Gelb will continue to handle all marketing and sales for exhibit space and program books, as well as overseeing all Aftermarket Alley areas and sponsorships for the MTAS shows. MTAS produces 19 auto shows nationwide.
NewsWire One acquired by eNR ServicesAuto Shows of North America sponsor NewsWire One has been acquired by eNR Services, Inc., a company best known for its “Grassroots PR” product, a program that helps businesses generate local interest news for media.
“NewsWire One allows us to immediately offer our clients a unique interactive press release capability they can’t find anywhere else,” said Jon Victor, president and CEO of eNR. “The NewsWire One Product set complements eNR’s existing media database, media monitoring and press release distribution services.”
Gary Glenn, president and co-founder of NewsWire One, said the move was a natural one.
“The product synergies created by combining our companies allows us to more fully leverage our capabilities and offer our clients a broader range of services.
NewsWire One employees have been retained by eNR and will continue operating out of the firm’s Chicago offices.
Freeman does it all — with excellenceWith some 21 auto shows under its belt last year alone, Freeman, a long-standing sponsor of Auto Shows of North America, is arguably one of the most proficient in its field — setting up just about every aspect of an auto show, including moving complex exhibits in and out of a hall, decorating and even the carpeting.
“We have a quality team of players, many of whom do multiple auto shows,” says O’Connell, who has direct involvement with the New York International Auto Show, which he’s worked on for some 18 seasons.
What also helps is having a geographic presence, as Freeman does, in so many cities throughout North America — 42 at last count.
While Freeman may be one of the bigger players in the auto show environment, it’s also a significant company as far as trade shows in general are concerned. Indeed, some 3,800 shows (85 percent of them under 200 booths) are done annually by the company, with 3,600 full-time employees and another 28,000 part-time workers throughout any given year. The company produces 94 events on the “Tradeshow 200” list of largest U.S. shows.
O’Connell says working with auto show exhibitors is rewarding at several levels, especially the quality and experience of those in the industry.
“Generally, they take a long time to install, but the quality is certainly there,” says O’Connell. “When you finish a show, you’ve got tired legs and tired feet but the product, especially at a show like New York, is breathtaking.”
In all cases, Freeman’s customer is the association that owns the show. And that means the menu of services the company serves up is very much the decision of the customer.
Regardless of the services provided, O’Connell emphasizes it’s the team of people at Freeman that results in a job flowing smoothly, and one factor is the ownership structure of the company itself.
A quarter century ago, Freeman set up one of the first Employee Stock Ownership Plans in the nation. Today, about 38 percent of the company is held by employees, the balance by the Freeman family. The company was founded in 1927 by Donald S. “Buck” Freeman and is run today by Donald S. Freeman Sr., son-in-law Joe Popolo and daughter Carrie Freeman Parsons.
“Having employee owners keeps everyone motivated,” says O’Connell. “The proof of that is in realizing that our major growth as a company came with the launch of the ESOP.”
IAS brings power of the Internet to ASNA and othersIn any other industry, referring to an 11-year-old company as a “pioneer” might seem to be a little incongruous, but not when it’s Internet services. And certainly Internet Applications & Solutions (IAS) is just that — a company that started out ahead of its time and remains so today.
“We could see that our clients would benefit from a supplier who would take a high quality, predictable approach to the business,” says Talbot, in explaining the approach IAS took to the marketplace. “We saw ourselves as carving out that place in the market.”
Indeed, IAS has done just that.
The company, which designed and today hosts the Auto Shows of North America Web site (and works the magic that results in “The Auto Show Report” being distributed to thousands of subscribers), does much of the same work for a bevy of other IAS clients, some of them in close proximity to the company’s home near the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; others, including Caesars Entertainment, located elsewhere.
Such is the nature of the Internet.
Along with Web hosting services, IAS does extensive work in leasing applications to companies, another example of its stature as something of an Internet pioneer.
“We started doing that when the company first started,” says Talbot. “Now it’s quite commonplace and the term Application Service Provider or ASP has evolved to describe it. We were one of the first.”
As an ASP, a company does the development work to build a comprehensive application, updating the coding and adding functionality to a program that’s integrated into a client’s Web site. IAS then sells the service on a monthly or yearly basis.
“It makes a lot of sense for a company to go this route,” says Talbot. “The key reason is they don’t have to pay for the entire Web application development costs, only the application customization or integration and then the monthly application lease. We are entirely responsible for maintaining and updating the Web application for them.”
Those services include the integration of sales force automation efforts, membership management systems, news & events management, online publications management, online inventory systems, managing customer access to a company’s Web site, or any number of Internet-based services required by an organization.
IAS services also include the design, development & content formatting for a company’s Web site.
In addition to Web site design and integrated applications development, IAS offers hosting services at its own data center. The company also hosts a variety of sites and servers from other organizations as well as its own development clients as part of an expanding service.
Another IAS service offering is OnSite technical support which is the setup and maintenance of wired and wireless networks, PC and Linux workstations, servers and corresponding software applications.
“We also provide high quality spam & virus filtered individual e-mail accounts and broadcast e-mail services which are used in 'opt-in' marketing campaigns,” says Talbot.
One emerging area for IAS is the ongoing development of Google NetMarketing campaigns for clients wishing to include “pay for placement” services as part of their business plan.
Talbot says the company’s continued growth is at least in part due to a loyal and satisfied client base. “We have very good client retention rates. They’re happy with our quality one-stop service approach and they stay with us.”
As an ASNA sponsor, Talbot sees the continued value of helping the organization with its efforts to build a community of those involved in the business of auto shows.
“We certainly see the opportunity for growth, not only for executives directly responsible for the development of auto shows, but for anyone connected with this community,” says Talbot. “As the industry continues to grow, there are further opportunities for improvement and we’d like to help with those efforts.”
Chicago: Putting ‘Best of Show’ to a public voteFor Chicago Auto Show executive Jerry Cizek III, one of the key points of the event has been to give the public what they want to see in new vehicles. With the show just completed, he put it to a vote.
“Best All-New Production Vehicle” (Ford Shelby GT 500), “Best Concept Vehicle” (Dodge Challenger), “Best Chicago Auto Show World Introduction” (Dodge Rampage concept); “Best Exhibit” (Jeep); and “Vehicle I Most Want to See in My Driveway” (Chevrolet Camaro).
“The key point we were trying to make is that the buying public has a choice and they’ll tell us what they want to see,” says Cizek.
Voting was done either on the Internet or by cell phone with a panel of media people picking the finalists, while the public picked the winners.
There are already plans to repeat the idea next year.
But it’s what the show puts in that space that counts.
Highlights of this year’s show included the Chrysler Jeep and Dodge display, where a test track demonstrated rigidity and durability of the vehicles.
For Toyota, the Chicago experience delivered what Cizek terms a “show within a show” — the world introduction of its Tundra full-size truck took the entire Grand Ballroom at the McCormick.
Another source of buzz at the show was the recognition of international status for the 2007 show by the Organisation Internationale Des Constructeurs D’Automobiles (OICA). With the announcement, Chicago’s 2007 event will be OICA-certified (LA gets the nod for 2006 and New York in 2008, after which the cycle repeats; Detroit’s North American International Auto Show continues to be OICA-certified every year).
Aside from the international status of the event, Cizek says the Chicago Auto Show does what it’s intended to do — which is to get people interested in vehicles, generating traffic to dealer showrooms. “That’s really the purpose of the show.”
And it’s working.
Also on the horizon is the bubble of Baby Boomers who represent a huge market of buyers who aren’t likely to be like their parents when it comes to buying a post-retirement car.
“They’re going out buying sports cars, living a second childhood,” says Cizek, whose father-in-law, at 80, just bought himself a Ford GT.
Houston: Media days brings in heavy hittersThey’re smiling in Houston.
And debuts bring not only press, but executives — hence the appearance of Cisco Codina, Ford’s new vice president of sales and marketing. He wasn’t the only exec present, however.
Media covering the show got a chance to see, hear and interview General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, present at least in part to meet with the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle, sponsors of the auto show.
Wagoner’s appearance is likely what prompted even more media coverage for the show, notably the on-site coverage by Bloomberg and Reuters along with other national media outlets, including representatives of AP.
It didn’t hurt public awareness of the show (and therefore attendance) to have two auto show specials running, one by the local ABC affiliate; another by Univision, the Spanish language station.
Barry Toepke, who handles communications for the event, says one TV station, having done a live broadcast earlier in the week, came back due to popular demand from viewers who wanted to see the Camaro concept.
The younger crowd got to play to their heart’s content at the successful “Kids Fun Zone,” a separate area geared for children under 12 that included an obstacle course, crash course, grand prix, monster truck jump, face painting, temporary tattoos, bean-bag toss, tire shoot-out, and arts and crafts.
“It was tremendously popular and absolutely packed on the weekend,” says Toepke. He also pointed to several first-time exhibitors at the show, including Bentley and Lamborghini, who benefited from exposure.
Some 30 vehicles were seen in Texas for the first time, among them the 2007 Ford Shelby GT500, the Lexus LS 460, and the 2007 Toyota Yaris (replacement for the Echo).
St. Louis: Heavy promotion seen as key to driving traffic“Everything clicked.”
Now no one would wish the Rams ill, but not having them at the Super Bowl meant people like Sullivan could concentrate on what they do best—driving traffic to the auto show. They did so by pushing one of those typically successful buttons—media.
Even then, you have to have something to offer, which, thankfully, St. Louis did in the Toyota Trucks Off Road On Site Adventure.
“We promoted that heavily,” says Sullivan.
Sullivan also credits favorable weather, which isn’t always the case.
It was inside that show goers got to see a good number of concept cars, thanks to the calendar positioning of the St. Louis event.
“We’re very lucky in that respect,” says Sullivan. “We’re just after Detroit and they can just stick the vehicles on a truck and head to St. Louis.”
Such was the case with the Jeep Gladiator concept.
Other popular features included a selection of vintage vehicles from the St. Louis Corvette Club, as well as vehicles brought in by the St. Louis Horseless Carriage Club, which brings in different models — all in mint condition—every year.
In addition to vehicles, concept and otherwise, the St. Louis show is noted for its entertainment features, including a popular Spider-Man show.
What else would you expect from a sports-crazy town like St. Louis?
Still, Brian Sullivan has his moments. Like when the beloved Rams do well and find themselves playing right up to the weekend before the auto show is supposed to open at noon on Wednesday.
“If they play well, we don’t get to start moving in on the Sunday,” says Sullivan.. “It’s a serious delay which means working 24 hours a day to get ready in time.”
Salt Lake City: Attendance gets boost after renewed media buyCraig Bickmore had one overriding goal for this season’s Utah International Auto Show: increase attendance.
He knew what it would take to reverse a season or two of declining numbers at the turnstile; notably unseasonably good weather and even a stint of flooding in the state that had its impacts on attendance at the mid-January event.
The results spoke for themselves.
“We had a good bump in attendance this year,” says Bickmore, referring to a healthy increase over previous years. “We had a lot of media attention at the show — lots of remotes, probably more so than we had before.”
As Bickmore and others already know, media attention typically results in increased attendance, something that played out at this year’s show.
“Everyone knew about the show,” he says. “Everything just came together to give us the results we wanted. It was a very nice show.”
Even the show’s charity event (in its second year) beat last year’s results, with some 50 percent more helping raise money for the seven charities designated by show organizers.
Once the auto show itself opened the doors, attendees were treated to a variety of vehicles from what Bickmore says were “very supportive” exhibitors.
“Manufacturers came to us with some great product,” he says. “They’re doing a great job in new product development and it’s certainly showing.”
Bickmore was equally complimentary about the quality of the displays themselves. “They’ve always been good, but this year we saw a step up from what was here before.”
With Utah being one of the states that has a love affair with trucks, that was reflected in displays at the show. “The truck displays were terrific,” says Bickmore. “People were waiting in line to see the great new products.”
Features at the show included a unique vintage car collection featuring eight vehicles owned by Ardell Brown. Show goers also got to see a collection of classic muscle cars assembled by the editors of Street Rodder magazine, a Primedia publication (the show is produced by Motor Trend Auto Shows, a division of the publisher). That display included two 1932 Highboy Ford Roadsters, a 1933 Full Fendered Ford Roadster and a 1936 Ford Three Window Coupe.
In yet another successful push for improved attendance, one of the local TV stations (Fox 13-KSTU) sent one lucky winner and a friend to LA to watch a live performance show taping of American Idol. And another station (KSL-TV) had an hourly giveaway for a TV and a grand prize drawing of a high-definition big screen model.
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