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.
New Pittsburgh exec finds moving up to be seamlessIt may be a long way from Idaho to Pennsylvania, but for Denise Brennan, the new executive at the Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association, the trip across the country was more than geographic in nature.
“That enticed me,” says Brennan, who started the job on Aug. 1, 2006, having taken over from the retiring David Wagner.
And while Wagner is still involved as an auto show consultant, clearly Brennan has jumped in with both feet.
As she and her staff put the finishing touches on a Pittsburgh International Auto Show that runs Feb. 10-18, Brennan says it’s been a relatively smooth transition, notably from a role that was dominantly on the legislative side of association work to one that’s focused on event planning.
“It’s really what I was after when this opportunity came up,” she says.
Brennan, a native of Idaho, worked as office manager for a small cable company before taking a job with the auto dealers association, working for her father-in-law. “When he began talking about retiring, I moved into that position.” She worked there for 14 years before the move east.
Brennan’s husband, Tim Brennan, who initially remained in Idaho (he’s a high school football coach) has since secured a position in the Pittsburgh area. The couple has two children who have remained in Idaho to attend Boise State University.
Working with auto dealers, something she already enjoyed in Idaho, is the constant. “They’re a great group of people with a lot of energy,” says Brennan, who adds that it will likely be easier to build strong relationships with her members, given that the Pittsburgh area itself is roughly the same population as the entire state of Idaho.
“This is a more concise area, so it will be easier to get out and see them,” she says.
UN makes first-ever visit to NAIASUnited Nations’ delegates and ambassadors from eight countries toured the North American International Auto Show last month, marking the first time an official UN delegation has visited the NAIAS or its predecessor, the Detroit Auto Show. For several of the visiting delegates, it was the first time they had ever been to an auto show.
“It was a pleasure to experience this world-class event, one which shows that the world truly does come to Detroit,” said Dave Amati,
director, global automotive business and automotive headquarters, SAE International, who assisted in organizing the UN visit in conjunction
with the SAE 2007 World Congress Industry Leadership Coalition Meeting.
Jason Vines to Chair Automotive Hall of Fame
Vines’ appointment as chairman was greeted with enthusiasm by fellow board members, including Edd Snyder, executive director of corporate communications for General Motors Corporation.
"Jason epitomizes the high-energy executive,” said Snyder. “With him leading the charge, there will be no lack of ideas for the Automotive Hall of Fame Board to consider as it tries to raise the profile of the facility with the automobile-loving public."
Chrysler, Chicago Auto Show set to break Guinness world record
Toyota rolls out hybrid exhibitToyota has launched its “Highway to the Future: Mobile Hybrid Experience” as a way for consumers to learn more about the company’s technology. The San Jose International Auto Show (see profile in this issue of The Auto Show Report) was the first of some 150 events where Toyota will be bringing the exhibit, which was built by the George P. Johnson Company. The exhibit also visited the Washington, D.C. show, and is scheduled to appear in Chicago next week. Four interactive learning areas in the exhibit will highlight alternative fuels, environment and resources, a Prius simulator, and an overview of Toyota’s hybrid technology. Working with the National Arbor Day Foundation, Toyota plans to plant more than 50,000 trees during the 18-month tour.
Road and Travel magazine names its ‘Most’ awardsOfficially dubbed the “International Car of the Year Awards,” online publication Road and Travel magazine’s recognition of the “Most …” were announced on the eve of Detroit’s North American International Auto show. More than 600 industry leaders and media attended the 11th annual event. Among the vehicles lauded:
“The ICOTY awards focus on the emotional connection between car and consumer; how vehicles reflect our lifestyles and self image, an attitude the average consumer can identify with,” says RTM Editor-in-Chief Courtney Caldwell.
RTM recognized veteran automotive journalist and photographer Jim Dunne with its 4th annual Lifetime Achievement Award, and also presented its 3rd annual “Heart String” award for best car commercial in 2006 for Ford Mustang’s “Father & Son” by JWT.
A jury of 12 nationally-renowned automotive journalists selected the Top 10 automobiles with ballots tabulated by J.D. Power and Associates.
Jim Press named Industry Leader by Automotive Hall of Fame
Comings and Goings in the auto show community
Adelmann digs in at St. Louis show: “There’s a lot to do.”With the departure of the executive director of the St. Louis Auto Dealers Association, executive assistant Chris Adelmann has seen an increase in his duties, notably in overseeing the auto show, which is produced by JP Events.
Although his title has not changed, Adelmann says his focus has; he is already working to help the association improve membership benefits.
“We’re going to be looking at every possible scenario we can bring to the table,” he says. “That may involve ‘creative stealing’ from other associations or coming up with new ideas. In doing so, we want to see consumer attitudes toward new car dealers change. There’s a lot to do.”
Adelmann says he’ll be working to increase attendance at the auto show as well as work with manufacturers to improve the quality of exhibits. “There’s a certain ‘if you build it they will come’ involved,” he says. “We intend to put the best show possible on the table.”
And even as the organization finds itself in transition, Adelmann says it’s been a unique experience. “There’s no job like this,” he says. “Having the ability to learn from all of those entrepreneurial types and gain the knowledge of the industry, along with the friendships you develop in the industry, has been invaluable.”
Las Vegas: Cutting through clutter produces results“For us Las Vegas is a tough market, mostly because there’s so much going on,” says Lauren Holzman, public relations director for Motor Trend Auto Shows, which produces the four-day Las Vegas International Auto Show. “The challenge is being able to cut through the clutter with our messaging.”
One of those elements was Aftermarket Alley, a feature that gave show visitors a taste of customization.
For Holzman, the importance of the accessories exhibit can’t be understated.
“Especially here in Las Vegas, where consumers are used to seeing SEMA products, this was something that was a big pull.”
A key part of the Aftermarket Alley presence was a “live build” — a six-hour customization project on a 2007 Ford Mustang GT convertible that took place on Saturday, thanks in large part to Stangpede, a local car club.
According to Holzman, Motor Trend worked hard to promote the concept, which brings another interactive element to the auto show.
But this is still an auto show and that means showcasing the latest products, something the Southern Nevada Ford Stores did with its sponsored ride and drive, which featured the new Edge crossover and Expedition EL.
Getting consumers involved in auto show displays is something Holzman agrees is now a well-established trend. “To be successful, there needs to be interactive displays, the ability for consumers to see and touch and the exhibitors have been able to provide those opportunities.”
And yes, there’s the matter of getting the media’s attention as well.
“We’ve been able to bring media to the show on a consistent basis,” says Holzman, referring to a challenge that has taken some time to overcome. But with the seventh annual event in the rear-view mirror, Holzman says journalists now see the auto show as an important one to cover.”
Los Angeles: New dates make the differenceAndy Fuzesi, who holds a long-term contract to produce the LA Auto Show, says he’s encouraged by the results of a date change that has already removed a scheduling irritant and which will eventually see the public show wrap up on Thanksgiving.
Fuzesi admits even with the show responding to journalists who found the near overlap with Detroit’s North American International Auto Show to be a scheduling problem (media days were previously held the week between Christmas and New Year’s), there was still a lot of breath holding prior to the opening of media days.
“We had people registered, but the question was: ‘will they show up?’”
They did. And organizers were ready, with more high-speed Internet connections, more parking facilities, a new broadcast center and the amenities (among them, availability of workstations, press kits and shipping services) that typically make the job of a working journalist that much easier.
Adding to the prestige of the event was the fact that this year’s LA Auto show was sanctioned by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles, the Paris-based international automobile trade association.
Fuzesi expects next season's event, which settles in its permanent place on the auto show calendar (there are a couple of years where organizers will have to accommodate prior bookings at the LA Convention Center) to be even stronger from the standpoint of manufacturer support.
“There were definitely manufacturers who were taking a wait and see attitude about the new dates,” says Fuzesi, who adds that Toyota is one manufacturer in particular that has indicated it will have a stronger presence at the next show.
While Fuzesi says he’d like to see more vehicle debuts, he also thinks there’s an opportunity for manufacturers to tie into areas that are a natural for California, one issue being the environment.
But even as Fuzesi and his staff work hard to better meet the needs of journalists and manufacturers, he understands full well that success is in the eye of the beholder.
“People would come up to me and ask ‘how is it for you?’ My response was ‘don’t ask me, you tell me how it is. If I’m happy and you’re not, who cares?’”
Salt Lake City: Everything starting to clickFrom the perspective of Craig Bickmore, executive director of the Utah Automobile Dealers Association, this year’s Utah International Auto Expo was everything he hoped it would be.
“It was a very, very good year for us,” says Bickmore.
“We had very good support from our media partners,” says Bickmore. “They really came to play.”
The auto show, says Bickmore, is gaining momentum. “Everything is starting to click.”
One factor, besides the steady promotion in the form of media buys, was the weather, which was cold, perhaps even colder than usual for a January in Salt Lake City.
At the show, attendees had a chance to see a collection of classic convertibles brought to the event by collector Ardell Brown, who retired as an RV dealer and began his “obsession” in 1998 with the purchase of a 1970 Doretti. Vehicles shown at the Utah show included a 1954 Buick Skylark, 1955 Cadillac Eldorado, 1957 Chevy Bel Air, 1961 Chevrolet Corvette, 1965 Chevrolet Malibu, 1967 Oldsmobile 442, 1968 Chevrolet Camaro, and a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge.
An exotic vehicle display, courtesy of Steve Harris Imports, included a Ferrari F430 Spider, Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT, Lotus Exige “S” and a Lotus Elise.
The Northern Utah Mustang Owners Association brought a collection of vehicles highlighting the history of Ford’s “pony” car. Among them were the 1964-65 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car, a 1965 Fastback, 1966 Convertible, 1967 Coupe, 1967 Shelby GT500 Fastback, 1970 Boss 429, 1971 Mach 1, 1990 GT Convertible and a 2005 Coupe.
San Diego: First year as self-produced show is a successMoving from a vendor-produced to a self-produced event, the San Diego International Auto Show came through the effort with flying colors, says Dean Mansfield, president of the San Diego County New Car Dealers Association, whose organization made the decision to go it alone just six months before the show opened its doors.
With increases in attendance (over 20 percent) and a number of other key measures of success, including Web site visits, e-ticket sales, and increased press coverage, Mansfield says he’s expecting next year’s event will only improve.
Even so, Mansfield says his staff, which includes new show director Kevin Leap, was able to capitalize on factors such as strong local media and community ties, and increased manufacturer participation, likely, at least in part, due to a change in dates of the LA Auto Show.
“We did our leg work earlier in the year,” says Mansfield. “By reaching out to manufacturers early and, just as importantly, in person, they were well aware of the logistical ease in which they could move product and displays from LA to San Diego. Mansfield says more interactive features as well as a concentrated media buy, with locally produced broadcast commercials, were contributing factors to the boost in attendance.
“Our Web site was a real hero of the show,” adds Mansfield, referring to a 48 percent increase in e-ticket sales and 1.3 million visits to the site in the two weeks prior to the show. Perhaps just as significant was the fact that the system was able to capture e-mail addresses that are now part of an ongoing marketing effort for future shows.
San Diego’s demographic, which includes a strong Hispanic population and its proximity to Tijuana, one of Mexico’s wealthiest cities, was something Mansfield and his staff were careful not to overlook.
New marketing efforts included teaming up with a local restaurant operator for a coupon campaign involving a dozen individual eating establishments; a renewed focus on penetrating the area’s military base, a significant source of show attendees; and a partnership with the North County Transit Authority to develop twice daily transportation to the show on the “Auto Show Express.” Other new and improved efforts included:
San Jose: Wall to wall peopleIn some respects, Steve Smith went out on a limb this year. Thankfully, it was one that was strong enough to support the weight of the San Jose International Auto Show.
“We went for a different demographic, a younger one for us,” says Smith, referring to the 18-44 crowd the show targeted.
He’s glad he did: attendance at the show was up 24.7 percent over the previous year.
What’s particularly exciting to Smith, who runs the Silicon Valley Auto Dealers Association, was what those numbers are likely to mean in the weeks ahead.
San Jose was the first city in the U.S. to host Toyota’s Highway to the Future, the company’s Mobile Hybrid Experience, something Smith said made good sense, considering the positive attitudes in the market, not only for technology but environmental stewardship.
“That display provided huge entertainment value, considering the popularity of hybrid vehicles.”
Perhaps not as technology friendly but arguably just as entertaining was an appearance by World Wrestling Entertainment’s Diva Candice Michelle. Smith admits he was at first unsure about hosting Candice Michelle, but those misgivings were quickly put to rest when he saw people lining up for three solid hours to meet the WWE personality.
It’s all about entertainment, says Smith.
“People have been telling us that it’s the entertainment value they’re looking for,” he says “It’s not just the cars, it’s the product specialists, the interaction people have while they’re at the show, the experience.”
And with results like Smith experienced — “wall to wall people for the whole weekend” — who’s to argue?
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