ASNA Logo Volume 4, Issue 9 - September 2006
Image Collage

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
  • From the editors
  • Comings and Goings in the auto show community
  • South Florida sells out, Camp Jeep heads to Miami Beach
  • Toyota confirms off-road ‘ride and drive’ for San Diego
  • Classic rock band Foghat to play at Orange County show
  • VW takes top marks in J.D. Powers environmentally friendly category
  • Mercedes-Benz to sponsor Fashion Week in New York, LA and Miami
  • Jeep launches bug campaign
  • Toyota breaks ground on Michigan technical center

    Show Profiles

  • Albuquerque: Firing on all cylinders
  • Anaheim: New name, great excitement builds in the OC
  • Greater Lehigh Valley: Show has come a long way in 10 years
  • Detroit: Gearing up for another great year
  • Fort Worth: A distinctive show from neighboring Dallas
  • Oklahoma City: More advertising, more fun, more crowds
  • St. Paul/Minneapolis: Keeping it simple continues to work
  • Toronto: Show works with manufacturers to deliver “experience”
  • Vancouver: Reflections of a complex market on Canada’s West Coast

    Show Directory

  • Alphabetical listing of ASNA shows and dates for 2006-2007

    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.

    From the editors

    As we wind up this season’s last issue of “The Auto Show Report,” the first issue of our new season is right around the corner. And just as producers, exhibitors and the allied suppliers and everyone else involved in the community have barely a chance to catch their breath before another round of auto show magic is revealed to the audience, we’re going to be doing our part to keep everyone connected. Having said that, we could use your help. Know of something we should be sharing with your colleagues? Personnel changes we can put in our “Comings and Goings” section? Please let us know right away so we can pass the word. And as the next volume of our e-mail newsletter begins, expect a phone call or e-mail inviting you to share on an in-depth basis just how your auto show went. Questions? Comments? Fire away.

    Joe Rohatynski, senior editor / J.D. Booth, editor
    The Auto Show Report

    Comings and Goings in the auto show community

    Hyundai Motor America has named Jae Il Kim as group executive vice president, overseeing the company’s North American operations, including Hyundai Motor America, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Hyundai Motor Finance Company, Hyundai Auto Canada and Hyundai Translead. Previously senior executive vice president of the Hyundai Motor Group international division, Kim will be based at Hyundai Motor America’s Fountain Valley, Calif., headquarters.

    South Florida sells out, Camp Jeep heads to Miami Beach

    The 36th annual South Florida International Auto Show, which runs from Oct. 6-15 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, says it has sold a record amount of space for the event, with more than half the automaker exhibitors increasing their commitments. Upcoming features include a Million Dollar Alley (Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bentley and Rolls Royce) and Memory Lane with a line-up of classic vehicles. Also, show coordinator Cliff Ray says Camp Jeep is making its South Florida debut in the form of a 30,000 square foot road track set up for the 10-day show.

    Toyota confirms off-road ‘ride and drive’ for San Diego

    Toyota and the San Diego International Auto Show have confirmed the popular Toyota Off Road On Site Adventure will be featured as part of this year’s show, which runs from Wed., Dec. 27 through Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. Officials say one reason for the continued growth of the show, which is said to be the highest attended five-day event in the U.S., is its access to one of the largest and increasingly influential Hispanic markets in the country. San Diego is also less than 20 miles from the three million people of Tijuana, Mexico’s wealthiest city.

    Classic rock band Foghat to play at Orange County show

    It’s been called a seminal British blues/rock band. And now a reconstituted Foghat is performing for one night only, Friday, Oct. 6, at the Orange County Auto Show. As co-director John Sackrison explains, the musical event is substantively different than those sponsored by automakers (GM sponsored the Black Eyed Peas at the show for a dealer and media audience in 2004). “This is for everyone,” says Sackrison. “It’s one more reason for people to come to the auto show.” The $25 concert ticket includes admission to the show. Foghat greats include: “Fool for The City,” “Slow Ride” and “I Just Wanna Make Love To You.”

    VW takes top marks in J.D. Powers environmentally friendly category

    Volkswagen is the industry’s most environmentally friendly automaker, says J.D. Powers and Associates. Three VW products: the Golf, Jetta and New Beetle made it to the automotive researcher’s list of low emission vehicles. The study combines U.S. EPA data with voice-of-the-customer information. A resulting Automotive Environmental Index had VW on the top of the rankings.

    Mercedes-Benz to sponsor Fashion Week in New York, LA and Miami

    Mercedes-Benz has signed a three-year deal with IMG for sponsorship of Fashion Week in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. In a news release, MBUSA said it expects to leverage its sponsorship with a full range of integrated marketing initiatives, including advertising, online activities, partnership marketing, related consumer shows and philanthropic activities.

    Jeep launches bug campaign

    Buggy? Not really, says Jeep in its new campaign.

    The folks behind DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep brand say a campaign that features insects traveling across indoor and outdoor landscapes, up the walls of buildings and through magazine pages is intended to focus on a “go anywhere, do anything” theme. At closer look, the images are actually an aerial view of the new vehicles, which are carrying such items as kayaks, surfboards, snowboards and packing gear. Media to be used for the campaign include television, print, online, events, gaming, out-of-home media, customer relationship marketing and merchandising.

    Toyota breaks ground on Michigan technical center

    Toyota Technical Center (TTC) a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America, broke ground last month on a 700 acre site near Ann Arbor, Mich. The $200 million investment will expand Toyota’s research and Vehicle Development operations in North America. Government officials, including Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, and community leaders joined Toyota executives to celebrate the company milestone. Toyota said the new facility will require more than 400 new jobs by 2010.

    Albuquerque: Firing on all cylinders

    Talk about pent-up demand.

    After 30 years without an auto show, the largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque, is well into finding out just how popular one of the nation’s premier face to face marketing opportunities can be.

    And Charles Henson is loving it.

    As the president of the New Mexico Automobile Dealers Association explains, people are still excited with the very idea of an auto show in the state’s largest city, even as he gears up for the fourth year.

    Members of the public are invited to sign a giant state flag just before they enter the New Mexico International Auto Show. In a tradition that's gained in popularity, the flags are sent to military locations (pictured above and below) where troops from New Mexico are stationed.
    “The show has grown each year and the level of professionalism that we and producer Motor Trend bring to the community was definitely done at the right time,” says Henson.

    So what does the New Mexico International Auto Show look like?

    Henson answers the question by describing what visitors don’t see.

    “We don’t do celebrities,” he says. “That seems to me to be a race that you can’t stay up with and can never win. The cars are the stars.”

    On the other hand, Henson isn’t bashful in giving charities throughout the state, and particularly those benefiting children, an opportunity to receive the undeniable attention the auto show will give them.

    In the last two years, that has meant giving the Boy Scouts some exposure.

    This upcoming year, Henson expects to see a unit in place that will test for bone density, which can be an indication of a woman’s potential for osteoporosis.

    Interestingly, those community-benefiting touches to the auto show are situated in areas that the general public can access without actually having to buy a ticket to the show.

    The reason?

    “It’s the right thing to do,” says Henson, with the same “stick to the principles” he used to explain an early decision not to permit the sale of alcohol anywhere on the auto show premises.

    As he previously explained to “The Auto Show Report” when the show was established, “drinking and automobiles just don’t go together, even at an auto show.”

    Since then, Henson and his colleagues at the dealer association have received support for the decision. And accolades or not, they’re sticking to the decision.

    The effort to build momentum at the show, even with the pent-up demand, has not been without its challenges, although those may seem to be a fading memory.

    “The first year, we had to go out and sell the exhibitor space, the peripheral booths other than that taken up by the automakers. If we had 50,000 more square feet, we could sell it.”

    Profile: New Mexico International Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    April 20-23, 2006

    Next show:
    April 19-22, 2007

    Albuquerque Convention Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Exhibit Space:
    140,000 square feet (approximate)

    Adults, $8; Seniors (60+), $6; Children 6-12 (accompanied by adult), $4; under 6 free; Military (with ID), $5; $2 off adult ticket price with coupon from McDonald's Restaurants.

    Show Hours:
    Opening Friday, 3 pm-10 pm; Saturdays, 10 am-10 pm; Sundays, 10 am-6 pm; Mon.-Fri., 3 pm-10 pm

    Show Contact:
    Charles Henson, ATAE
    New Mexico Automobile Dealers Association, 505.345.6060

    Show Web site:

    Anaheim: New name, great excitement builds in the OC

    It may have a new name but the Orange County Auto Show (formerly California International) is hardly a newcomer.

    Indeed, the explosive growth of the area that includes Anaheim and its surroundings is at least partly behind the rebranding of an event that co-director John Sackrison says is gaining importance.

    And it comes in other colors, too.

    “For starters, we’re one of the largest luxury markets in the country,” says Sackrison, executive director of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association. “By number of sales, we’re number one with several brands.”

    But are those luxury buyers going to the show?

    “An interesting question,” says Sackrison, who shares show director duties with Todd Leutheuser, executive director of the Southland Motor Car Dealers Association, based in Long Beach. “The Lamborghini exhibit had three sales that they correlated to the show itself. For them, that’s a lot.”

    Which may account for the fact that the high-end automaker is planning to show its Murciélago Coupé LP640 at the upcoming event.

    Auto Show Underground: fun for all ages.

    Sackrison says he’s expecting Nissan to unveil a new hybrid as well as other automakers, including Ford and Mercedes Benz, to showcase new products.

    The show’s “Auto Show Underground,” introduced last year, is gaining ground as well this year, with a line-up of DJs as entertainment (including DJ Lady Tribe) as well as a DUB magazine celebrity car showcase, exotic car displays, and aftermarket accessory vendors.

    The Oct. 4-8 event, which is being promoted as “two shows in one,” includes a Miss Hawaiian Tropic Pageant, with syndicated radio host Tom Leykis.

    On a more serious note, the auto show will feature a first ever Alternative Fuels Day on Thursday, Oct. 5, the intent being to highlight an increasingly popular lineup of green vehicles, including hybrid, electric, hydrogen fuel cell, diesel, and E85/ethanol.

    The newly named Orange County Auto Show is one of the season's first.

    As part of the program, the California Fuel Cell Partnership will host a public ride and drive, giving show attendees the opportunity to try out new technologies in vehicles from Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler.

    Todd Leutheuser says the event puts the Orange County Auto Show in a strategically important position.

    “California is a leader in both protecting our environment and developing new technologies needed to make our environment cleaner. Consumers will enjoy learning more about the technology behind new alternative fuel vehicles.”

    Profile: Orange County Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    Oct. 4-8, 2006

    Next show:
    Oct. 3-7, 2007

    Anaheim Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    665,000 square feet

    Adults (13 plus), $10; Seniors (62 plus), $6; Children (under 12), 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 Web site:

    Greater Lehigh Valley: Show has come a long way in 10 years

    Big band sounds rocked Rauch Field house as Lehigh Valley auto dealers welcomed 1,000 guests to the Ninth VIP Gala Sneak Preview Party at the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show. Community leaders, industry colleagues, customers, family and friends enjoyed an evening of great food and fun while checking out the latest products the auto industry has to offer.

    The entire family gets into the excitement of looking at what's being offered.

    Show director Martha Cusimano says the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show has come a long, long way.

    “We started out in 1997 as a three-day event, with 85,000 square feet, 15 brands and 150 vehicles,” says Cusimano, executive director of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association (GLVADA). “Today, it’s the largest consumer show in the region, a four-day event, with 110,000 square feet, 30 brands and over 200 vehicles.” Even more significantly, attendance has grown by 250 percent, says Cusimano.

    That pleases people like Greg Gulick, Key Pontiac Buick GMC, Bethlehem, who serves as president of the GLVADA. “The most important thing about the show is that attendees are there to shop,” says Gulick. “Annual exit surveys tell us that Lehigh Valley people use this show to research upcoming purchases. Every dealer wants to be out in force to present our products to these consumers and win them to our brand.”

    Auto Show Chair Andy Scott, Scott Chevy, Hummer, SAAB, Chrysler, Mazda, Volvo, Allentown, concurs.

    “Fully 84 percent of attendees found the auto show helpful in making their purchase decision,” says Scott. “The last year has been a challenging one for our industry and we all know that we have to work harder than ever for every sale. One of the most effective venues we have to win new customers is the auto show. They walk in that door ready to learn about the newest products and discover what best meets their needs. Each company has a singular opportunity to show them their best ideas and win their confidence. It’s a big opportunity for an industry show and tell, and the auto show puts the experience on steroids for attendees as the manufacturers send in their best exhibits and product specialists to do the job.”

    Above, Miss Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Eagles mascot; SpongeBob SquarePants and Peeps, representing Just Born candies.
    Notable celebrities at the past event included children’s favorite SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as Miss Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia Eagles star David Akers.

    Parents got a chance to take advantage of child safety seat coupons made available by the National Auto Dealers Association and distributed by the Pennsylvania State Police.

    Capitalizing on the hometown popularity of candy maker Just Born, one of the world’s largest producers of jelly beans, the company distributed samples of its Hot Tamales and Peanut Chews to show goers. Plus they brought Peeps, the world famous marshmallow chick, to delight the children.

    As in other areas of the country, an increasing demand for auto technicians prompted show organizers to continue with its annual Auto Technology Day, where students, teachers and family members from the technology schools in the region receive a guest pass.

    And with a patriotic and civic-minded nod, the show opened its doors to a free pass for active military personnel as well as those on fire and police services.

    Cusimano says the show continues to grow and serve its main purpose. “It’s our annual chance to shine a huge spotlight on our industry, show off our best products, and send customers into showrooms all over the region.”

    Profile: Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    March 23-26, 2006

    Next show:
    March 22-25, 2007

    Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

    Exhibit Space:
    110,000 square feet

    $8 adults
    $5 children over 5, high school & college students with valid ID and senior citizens (over 55)
    FREE Firefighters, Police and active and reserve Military with valid ID
    FREE Children under 5
    FREE Parking
    Coupons widely available McDonalds, Wendys, the Burn Prevention Foundation and other charities

    Show Hours:
    Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
    Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Show Contact:
    Martha H. Cusimano, ATAE
    Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association
    Executive Director & Producer Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show

    Show Web site:

    Detroit: Gearing up for another great year

    “What’s 100 years old, but doesn’t look a day over 19?”

    No, it’s not a trick question. The line, in fact, is part of the North American International Auto Show’s pre-show media briefing materials.

    Media representatives from around the world were on hand for product unveilings such as this one from Ford.

    While Detroit’s auto show took the step to become “international” in 1989, auto shows in the Motor City are nearing the century mark (the Detroit Auto Dealers Association sponsored its first event on Dec. 9, 1907).

    That first show was held in a beer garden and featured 17 exhibitors displaying 33 vehicles. Attendees paid fifty cents, with those attending the “society night” double that.

    A century later, the NAIAS has taken what amounted to a preview event to an entirely new level, last year raising more than $6.8 million which is distributed to 11 children’s charities in the Detroit area.

    For Rod Alberts, executive director of both the NAIAS and the DADA, the impact is nothing short of awe inspiring.

    “Where else can you raise over $6 million for needy kids in a three-hour period?”

    Ford also unveiled its Reflex concept vehicle.

    Indeed, the Charity Preview event has raised some $35 million in total in the last five years.

    Even as expectations for the Detroit show seem to be continually raised as each year passes, Alberts says attendees aren’t going to be disappointed.

    “From every indication we’ve received, we expect another stellar show,” he says. “Last month, we had a series of very positive meetings with manufacturers on the West Coast. We can tell you this – expect to see some incredible vehicle intros. We also know several manufacturers are featuring brand new exhibits. And, we guarantee Chinese automakers will have a presence at the show.”

    Certainly, automakers are still firming up their plans for the NAIAS, but no one will be surprised to see the number of introductions (70 worldwide and North American) be repeated or even exceeded.

    Jeep duplicated its historic "through the window" reveal of the 2007 Wrangler, reminiscent of its 1993 model unveiling.

    Looking back at last year’s event, a series of dramatic press conferences, including the unveiling of the 2007 Jeep Wrangler (if smashing through a window at Cobo Center can be called unveiling) was, certainly by intention, reminiscent of the debut, 14 years earlier, of the 1993 Jeep Wrangler model.

    The 6,600 journalists from 62 countries and 42 states who attended the press days simply ate it up.

    And with 60 percent of last year’s exhibits being entirely new, show goers got their best opportunity to see what the world’s automakers (virtually all of them) had to offer.

    We can hardly wait.

    Profile: North American International Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    Jan. 14-22, 2006

    Next show:
    Press days - Jan. 7-9, 2007
    Industry preview - Jan. 10-11, 2007
    Charity preview - Jan. 12, 2007
    Public show - Jan. 13-21, 2007

    Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center, Detroit

    Exhibit Space:
    1 million square feet

    Adults, $12; Seniors (62 and over), $6; Children under 12 (accompanied by parent), free

    Show Hours:
    9 am-10 pm, except Sun., Jan. 23: 9 am-7 pm. No admittance after 9 pm most days; no admittance after 6 pm on day of close.

    Show Contact:
    Rod Alberts, ATAE
    Executive Director, Detroit Auto Dealers Association

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $8 per ticket for adults in a group of 25 or more.

    Fort Worth: A distinctive show from neighboring Dallas

    It may be Dallas/Fort Worth on the map and at the airport, but when it comes to auto shows, the Greater Tarrant County Auto Show, which caters to the Fort Worth area and regions west, is decidedly distinct.

    Show producer Lisa Moore will acknowledge that the Greater Tarrant show is much smaller than its Dallas cousin. But that doesn’t mean exhibiting simply in the neighboring Dallas event will cover both markets.

    “You can actually feel the difference when you go between Dallas and Fort Worth,” says Moore, who’s been involved with the show for 10 years and managing it for three. “Fort Worth is sophisticated [it’s home to the Van Cliburn Foundation] but with a small town laid back atmosphere. And that’s reflected in the show, which is friendly and open.”

    The Texas Driving Experience had a display at the Greater Tarrant County Auto Show this year.

    Atmosphere aside, Moore says the market is, in fact, distinct.

    “If you’re a native Texan, you are not going to the Dallas show,” she says. “You’re not driving to Dallas. You’re staying in this area.”

    And that goes for rural communities west of Fort Worth.

    But the Greater Tarrant County event is, after all, an auto show, which means many of the successful elements are to be found.

    “We have a preview night, which is by invitation only,” says Moore. “But dealers will come in with boots, jeans, jackets and cowboy hats.”

    As the show kicked off, exhibits from virtually every manufacturer were present, although Moore does say getting the attention of manufacturers that “we’re an important show, even though we’re next to Dallas” has had its challenges.

    Even so, Moore was able to arrange a display of vintage Ford Model A vehicles, courtesy of a local club.

    At the other end of the spectrum, the show featured a display by the Texas Driving Experience, which gives participants the opportunity to take a Corvette Z06 race car on the track at the area’s Texas Motor Speedway.

    As is the case in other areas, a shortage of automotive technicians exists, one reason Tarrant County College teamed up with the show to do some recruiting.

    When it comes to marketing, Moore says efforts focus on a familiar “come to see all there is” theme, especially given the uncertainty as to what vehicles, concept or otherwise, are likely to arrive for the auto show.

    “We really never know until a month before the show what we’ll get.”

    Profile: Greater Tarrant County Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    March 2-5, 2006

    Next show:
    Feb. 15-18, 2007

    Fort Worth Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    220,000 square feet

    Adults, $8; Children (6-12), $3; under 6, free

    Show Hours:
    Thursday-Friday, 1 pm-10 pm; Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm

    Show Contact:
    Lisa Moore
    Show Director, Greater Tarrant County Auto Show, 817.332.5186

    Show Website:

    Oklahoma City: More advertising, more fun, more crowds

    Better effort. Better results.

    That’s essentially what Peter Hodges has to offer in explanation of seeing a 10 percent increase in attendance for last year’s show over the previous event.

    Virtually every automaker had products on display at the Oklahoma City show this year.

    “We tightened up advertising for one thing,” says Hodges, who produces the Oklahoma City International Auto Show as part of his job as president of the area’s Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association. “Making it more clear when and where things were happening helped.”

    Part of that advertising strategy was making a direct appeal to the car lover, the hard-core auto show attendee who would make it a point to be there.

    It obviously worked.

    One feature in particular, a display of muscle cars brought to the show by Oklahoma City-based World Wide Muscle Cars, was a big help.

    “It seemed to draw extremely well,” says Hodges, likely one reason he plans to expand on the muscle car line for the upcoming show.

    The show reached out to the sports fans with an appearance by Chris Paul of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.

    Included among the displays were the full range of Jeep products.

    Another appearance attraction came from BMXer Mat Hoffman, also from Oklahoma City. “He draws a monster crowd,” says Hodges.

    Also appealing from a crowd perspective was Toyota’s Off Road On Site Adventure, a popular flavor of the Ride and Drive category Oklahoma City tasted early on. Hodges says some variation of that is almost certain to return for the upcoming show.

    “Exhibitors love it, especially because of the location,” says Hodges, referring to the parking lot venue between main buildings (there are four that make up the entire auto show). “Everyone sees the Ride and Drive at least four or five times throughout the show.”

    With some shows eschewing entertainment altogether (“it’s all about the cars”) and others tending to appeal to a wider range of interests, Hodges says he understands both viewpoints, although he leans toward the “cars, cars, cars” stand.

    Toyota once again presented its Off Road On Site Adventure.

    “For those who keep it strictly automotive, they are definitely doing it right,” says Hodges, who points out that the “everything automotive” certainly does not preclude a variety of options.

    “You can show muscle cars, classic, or hot rods,” he says. “When you bring in other cars besides new vehicles, you’re always going to hit a home run. It all plays into the automotive crowd.”

    On the other hand, Hodges did arrange for appearances by SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Starfish.

    “If for some reason we got tired of the entertainment factor, with the cartoon characters, I don’t think it’s going to hurt the crowds,” says Hodges. “If you go strictly automotive, you’ll never lose.”

    Profile: Oklahoma City International Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    March 9-12, 2006

    Next show:
    March 8-11, 2007

    Oklahoma City State Fair Park (four buildings)

    Exhibit Space:
    160,000 square feet

    $7 adults, $4 children 7-12, free under 6

    Show Hours:
    Thursday and Friday, 11 am-9 pm; Saturday, 10 am-9 pm; Sunday 10 am-6 pm

    Show Contact:
    Peter Hodges, ATAE
    President, Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Web site:

    Discount Coupons:
    $2 off at new car dealerships and 7-11 stores

    St. Paul/Minneapolis: Keeping it simple continues to work

    While Bill Abraham’s 34-year tenure as producer of the Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis Auto Show may be one of the longest in the country, he admits that that doesn’t necessarily mean he has an edge.

    “Not that it makes me any smarter,” quips Abraham, who is president of the Greater Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association of Minnesota, Inc. “I’ve just survived the longest.”

    In fact, Abraham says he’s learned from other successful shows, including Chicago.

    “Looking at what they did was how I learned,” he says. “And one thing was ‘keep it simple. The cars are the focus.’”

    For that reason, Abraham isn’t a fan of having lots of entertainment at the auto show, which alternates between the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis in who gets top billing (the upcoming show will see St. Paul coming first in the marquee).

    “Before my time, when they had entertainment, people used to come to the auto show, see the entertainment feature, and walk away. They didn’t come for the auto show, they came for the entertainment.”

    The “new” philosophy (remember, it’s 34 years and counting) is to focus on the vehicles themselves.

    “People come back year after year to see what’s new in the auto industry,” says Abraham.

    A notable auto show feature is the daily giveaway of a $5,000 coupon, redeemable on a new vehicle through the dealer association. Donated by St. Paul Pioneer Press, the daily newspaper serving the area, the prize continues to be popular. And Abraham says every single one of the coupons has been redeemed over the 12 years of the promotion.

    This year’s show continued a more recent tradition, a “Support the Troops” on-site blood drive by the American Red Cross. About 1,000 units of blood were collected.

    The show features an “official” vehicle; this year the car was the 2007 Dodge Caliber.

    But that was just the beginning. Boasting more than 1,000 vehicles on display, along with informative displays on gas/electric hybrid powertrains and other emerging automotive technologies, Abraham says the show, which is the largest public indoor event held in the state of Minnesota every year, continues to be a popular one.

    As does Abraham’s work as a long-serving show producer.

    No one is saying for sure, but that success may be due in part to Bill Abraham’s experience with his previous employer, the U.S. Army.

    He worked in psychological warfare.

    Profile: Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis International Auto Show

    (cities alternate in first billing)

    Most recent show:
    March 11-19, 2006

    Next show:
    March 10-18, 2007

    Minneapolis Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    500,000 square feet

    Adults $9, Preteens (6 to 12) $4, Children (5 and under) free. Seniors' Day, $4.

    Show Hours:
    Saturdays: 10 am-10 pm; Sundays: 10 am-7 pm; Weekdays (except Wed.): 4 pm-10 pm; Wed. (Seniors' Day): 10 am-10 pm.

    Show Contact:
    Bill Abraham, ATAE
    President, Greater Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association of Minnesota, Inc., 952.831.8019

    Show Web site:

    Toronto: Show works with manufacturers to deliver “experience”

    A total automotive experience.

    That’s what the marketing manager of the Canadian International Auto Show calls it, the end result of a deliberate push by Toronto show organizers to align themselves with the strategy of exhibiting automakers.

    And Dave McClean says it’s working even better than ever.“We’re seeing a new level of commitment among automakers, especially as we make more and more opportunities available to them.”

    What that means, in practical terms, is going beyond the square footage the Toronto show sells to exhibitors.

    “We help them take their brand beyond that,” says McClean, citing as one example, Volkswagen’s widely publicized sponsorship of a Children’s Playcare Centre, which is free for show attendees.

    “It gives people the freedom to look around without having the responsibility for younger children.”

    Another “value added” is parking, which is sponsored by Nissan dealers, as is the free shuttle service that takes show goers to and from the two venues, Rogers Centre (the renamed SkyDome) and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

    McClean says automakers are provided with a “return on experience” for their involvement in the auto show.

    Getting in the racing picture is something fans loved to do in Toronto.

    “We want to help them create an experience memory with the people who attend the show,” says McClean. “It’s the spin off effects that come from promotional advertising, basically everything beyond the four walls of the exhibit space.”

    Toronto’s distinction, he says, is building content within the event itself.

    “We travel around the world, and there’s no question there are some great shows,” says McClean, a reminder of the fact that Toronto is, on an every other year basis, accredited by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles (OICA).

    “What we try to do here is create a total automotive experience, which means building content within the event. Building elements into the different demographic, like the Cruise Nationals display.”

    Cruise Nationals, which is part of the Classics Concourse area of the MTCC, is now an annual part of the show and ties into a competition that winds up with the end of summer Canadian National Exhibition, also in Toronto.

    McClean is already talking to representatives from manufacturers and dealers, asking about upcoming marketing objectives and determining how the Toronto show can help.

    “There’s a lot of research that goes into it,” he says.

    While those discussions are likely to help manufacturers increase visibility and developing the “return on experience” McClean is after, the auto show is also making a significant investment in infrastructure, notably in the form of a custom-built e-ticket system.

    And why custom?

    “We wanted to be able to leverage the system itself,” says McClean, referring to a decision to spend in the area of $50,000 plus annual maintenance fees. “Once we have it, we own it and are able to customize it to our liking. Now that we have it, we are able to enjoy economies of scale.”

    Beam us up?

    Indeed, the e-ticketing system accounts for as much as 18 percent of admissions.

    Users of the system benefit from a price break ($18 compared with the $20 regular admission).

    And, yes, the e-ticketing system also has a sponsor - the Citigroup family of financial services companies.

    Other highlights of the Canadian International Auto Show include the Toyota 4x4 Track and “Octagon Dreams” (a special salute to the MG) as well as vehicle giveaway promotions from Dodge, Mercedes-Benz, and Hyundai.

    Whatever appears in the next show, McClean is confident it will meet the needs of manufacturers and dealers who count on the event to help their marketing efforts.

    “We want to keep giving them more. We’ll keep talking about the experience and working to fill that experience.”

    Profile: Canadian International Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    Feb. 17-26, 2006

    Next show:
    Feb. 16-25, 2007

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Rogers Centre

    Exhibit Space:
    850,000 square feet

    Adults, $20 (Mon.-Thurs. $15 with coupon); Children (7-12), $7, under 6 free; Family admission (two adults, two children), $20; two-day pass, $30.

    Show Hours:
    Daily 10:30 am-10 pm, final Sunday 10:30 am-6 pm

    Show Contact:
    Tom Tonks, ATAE
    General Manager, Canadian International Auto Show/Toronto Automobile Dealers Association, 416.407.7472

    Show Website:

    Vancouver: Reflections of a complex market on Canada’s West Coast

    As the Vancouver International Auto Show (formerly known as “Pacific International”) continues an attendance building strategy that began with the hiring of former sports executive Glen Ringdal some two years ago, the results of a renewed marketing effort are being seen.

    “It’s increasing,” says Paul McGeachie, general manager, New Car Dealers Association of B.C. (British Columbia) and show director. “We took a dip last year but overall, we’ve continued to increase over a four-year period.”

    Momentum continues to grow for the Vancouver International Auto Show.

    Elements of the strategy include elevating the stature of the show itself to include an entire “auto week” in Canada’s West Coast city.

    “In its simplest form, it reminds people about cars and emphasizes taking care of your vehicle,” says McGeachie, pointing to a dealership oil change promotion that has consumers able to get free tickets to the auto show with their service visit.

    “The message is ‘take care of your car and the new car dealer will do it best,’” says McGeachie.

    During the Vancouver Auto Week earlier this year, automotive consultant Dennis DesRosiers was on hand at a luncheon sponsored by the Vancouver Board of Trade.

    “It’s our chance,” says McGeachie, “to include the business community in the show.”

    McGeachie is working on plans to add new elements to the luncheon, including a possible new car awards presentation.

    At the show itself, contest entrants got to select from among 12 new vehicles, each of which was worth at least $35,000 (the winner picked a Mazda Miata).

    Even those who didn’t win got to check out (and buy) a wide range of aftermarket goodies in the Tuner Alley.

    Got it! Ubiquitous camera phones are never far away at the auto show.

    “Exhibitors told us they actually do better at auto shows than at the custom tuner shows they attend,” says McGeachie. “They have to be at them, but auto shows are where people buy.”

    Also taking advantage of auto show traffic was the provincial tourism office, which sponsored a getaway vacation planning service.

    McGeachie says online marketing of the show continues to grow, with links to the Ticketmaster e-ticketing service a part of the strategy. “It’s a big tool for us,” he says of the Web site.

    Other show highlights included a contest to win a Porsche Driving Experience package, which included a trip to the Barber Motorsports Park near Atlanta.

    “The winner took her Dad, who was more excited than she was,” says McGeachie.

    Individual contests aside, winning at marketing with the show means paying attention to the unique ethnicity of Vancouver, which includes a strong mix of people from Asian countries like China, India, Japan, Korea and elsewhere.

    The single biggest point?

    Make people feel comfortable.

    Hot cars still attract attention at the show.

    “Manufacturers, by and large, don’t do anything exceptional for the ethnic market, per se,” says McGeachie. “Customers respond to brand names.”

    What does resonate, he says, are the little things.

    “Dealers and manufacturers do well when they have someone who speaks the language,” says McGeachie. “Making sure they have on floor people with the language skills is first and foremost.”

    One more challenge for the auto show: the weather.

    While that might not seem like an issue with Vancouver’s traditional balmy weather (where flowers can be seen to bloom in February), McGeachie says having a 10-day show is a near necessity.

    “We could hit a good stretch of weather and if it’s sunny, people go outside,” he says. “We need the 10 days to get everyone. And if there’s another event that’s taking place, we need the second weekend to recover.”

    Profile: Vancouver International Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    Mar. 31-April 9, 2006

    Next show:
    Mar. 30-April 8, 2007

    BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, British Columbia

    Exhibit Space:
    250,000 square feet (approximate)

    Adults, $12; Seniors/students, $10; Children 7-12 (accompanied by adult), $4; under 6 free; Family (2 adults, unlimited children 12 and under), $28; Multi-day pass, $17.

    Show Hours:
    Opening Friday, 3 pm-10 pm; Saturdays, 10 am-10 pm; Sundays, 10 am-6 pm; Mon.-Fri., 3 pm-10 pm

    Show Contact:
    Paul McGeachie, ATAE
    General Manager
    New Car Dealers Association of B.C., 604.214.9964, ext. 303

    Show Website:

    Auto Shows of North America Show Directory

    Albany Auto Show
    3/23/2007 - 3/25/2007

    Empire State Plaza Auto Show
    11/3/2006 - 11/5/2006

    New Mexico International Auto Show
    4/19/2007 - 4/22/2007

    Orange County Auto Show
    10/4/2006 - 10/8/2006

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show
    5/10/2007 - 5/18/2007

    Austin American Statesman Auto Show
    12/1/2006 - 12/3/2006

    Baltimore International Auto Show
    2/8/2007 - 2/11/2007

    Bethlehem, PA
    Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show
    3/23/2006 - 3/26/2006

    Alabama International Auto Show
    11/9/2006 - 11/12/2006

    New England International Auto Show
    11/4/2006 - 11/12/2006

    Buffalo Auto Show
    2/7/2007 - 2/11/2007

    Calgary International Auto & Truck Show
    3/14/2007 - 3/18/2007

    West Virginia International Auto Show
    1/19/2007 - 1/21/2007

    Charlotte International Auto Show
    11/16/2006 - 11/19/2006

    Chicago Auto Show
    2/9/2007 - 2/18/2007

    Cincinnati Auto Expo
    2/15/2007 - 2/18/2007

    Cleveland Auto Show
    2/24/2007 - 3/4/2007

    Columbus International Auto Show
    3/9/2007 - 3/18/2007

    Dallas Auto Show
    3/14/2007 - 3/18/2007

    Iowa/Illinois Regional Auto Show
    2/9/2007 - 2/11/2007

    Dayton Auto Show
    3/22/2007 - 3/25/2007

    Denver Auto Show
    3/28/2007 - 4/1/2007

    North American International Auto Show
    1/13/2007 - 1/21/2007

    Edmonton Motor Show
    3/1/2007 - 3/4/2007

    Fort Worth
    Greater Tarrant County Auto Show
    2/15/2007 - 2/18/2007

    Central California International Auto Show
    11/2/2007 - 11/4/2007

    South Carolina International Auto Show
    1/12/2007 - 1/15/2007

    Harrisburg, PA
    Pennsylvania Auto and Boat Show
    1/24/2007 - 1/28/2007

    Connecticut International Auto Show
    11/16/2006 - 11/19/2006

    First Hawaiian International Auto Show
    3/22/2007 - 3/25/2007

    Houston Auto Show
    1/27/2007 - 2/4/2007

    Indianapolis Auto Show
    12/26/2006 - 1/1/2007

    Kansas City
    Greater Kansas City International Auto Show
    3/8/2007 - 3/11/2007

    Las Vegas
    Las Vegas International Auto Show
    11/24/2006 - 11/26/2006

    Los Angeles
    Los Angeles Auto Show
    11/29/2006 - 12/10/2006

    Louisville Auto Show and Sale
    1/26/2007 - 1/28/2007

    South Florida International Auto Show
    10/6/2006 - 10/15/2006

    Greater Milwaukee Auto Show
    2/24/2007 - 3/4/2007

    Minneapolis/St. Paul
    Greater St. Paul & Minneapolis International Auto Show
    3/10/2007 - 3/18/2007

    Montreal International Auto Show
    1/19/2007 - 1/28/2007

    New Orleans
    New Orleans International Auto Show
    3/9/2007 - 3/11/2007

    New York
    New York International Auto Show
    4/6/2007 - 4/15/2007

    Oklahoma City
    Oklahoma City International Auto Show
    3/8/2007 - 3/11/2007

    Midlands International Auto Show
    1/25/2007 - 1/28/2007

    Central Florida International Auto Show
    11/22/2006 - 11/26/2006

    Philadelphia International Auto Show
    2/3/2007 - 2/11/2007

    Arizona International Auto Show
    11/23/2006 - 11/26/2006

    Pittsburgh International Auto Show
    2/10/2007 - 2/18/2007

    Portland International Auto Show
    1/25/2007 - 1/28/2007

    Northeast International Auto Show
    1/25/2007 - 1/28/2007

    Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show
    3/9/2007 - 3/11/2007

    Rochester International Auto Show
    2/28/2007 - 3/4/2007

    Sacramento International Auto Show
    11/9/2006 - 11/12/2006

    Saint Louis
    Saint Louis International Auto Show
    1/24/2007 - 1/28/2007

    Salt Lake City
    Utah International Auto Expo
    1/12/2007 - 1/15/2007

    San Antonio
    San Antonio Auto & Truck Show
    11/16/2006 - 11/19/2006

    San Diego
    San Diego International Auto Show
    12/27/2006 - 12/31/2006

    San Jose
    San Jose International Auto Show
    1/11/2007 - 1/15/2007

    Seattle International Auto Show
    10/25/2006 - 10/29/2006

    Spokane International Auto Show
    2/9/2007 - 2/11/2007

    Tampa Bay International Auto Show
    11/2/2006 - 11/5/2006

    Greater Toledo Auto Show
    1/25/2007 - 1/28/2007

    Canadian International Auto Show
    2/15/2007 - 2/24/2007

    Tulsa Auto Show
    1/1/2005 - 1/1/2005

    Vancouver International Auto Show (formerly Pacific International)
    3/30/2007 - 4/8/2007

    Washington Auto Show
    1/23/2007 - 1/28/2007


    Automotive Trade Association Executives
    8400 Westpark Drive
    McLean, VA 22102
    703.556.8581 - fax

    Gary Thomas, ATAE Chairman

    Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director

    Peter Hodges, ASNA Chairman

    The Auto Show Report
    Joe Rohatynski, senior editor

    J.D. Booth, editor

  • ASNA Partners

    ASNA Manufacturing Partners