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 editorsAs 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.
Comings and Goings in the auto show communityHyundai 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 BeachThe 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
Classic rock band Foghat to play at Orange County show
VW takes top marks in J.D. Powers environmentally friendly categoryVolkswagen 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 MiamiMercedes-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
Toyota breaks ground on Michigan technical centerToyota 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 cylindersTalk 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.
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.
“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.”
Anaheim: New name, great excitement builds in the OCIt 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.
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.
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.
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.”
Greater Lehigh Valley: Show has come a long way in 10 yearsBig 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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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?”
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.
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.
Fort Worth: A distinctive show from neighboring DallasIt 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.”
“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.
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.”
Oklahoma City: More advertising, more fun, more crowdsBetter 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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
St. Paul/Minneapolis: Keeping it simple continues to workWhile 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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Vancouver: Reflections of a complex market on Canada’s West CoastAs 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.”
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.”
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
3/23/2007 - 3/25/2007
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts: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
J.D. Booth, editor