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 to harmonize Chevy nameplate worldwideGeneral Motors, which has plans to launch a next generation global architecture for its compact car segment by 2010, wants to harmonize the Chevrolet nameplate worldwide. The plans stem from the popular brand’s growth outside North America. Currently, the U.S., Mexico and Canada account for two-thirds of Chevy sales but within a decade, more Chevys will be sold outside North America. An example of the harmonizing is GM considering the global use of the Cobalt name, which is used in North America. In Europe, the same vehicle is called the Nubira/Lacetti. Another example is the Aveo, which GM uses in North America; in some European markets the vehicle is called the Kalos. The strategy is expected to line up with global marketing initiatives such as Olympic sponsorships and the potential use of international celebrities to help sell Chevrolet around the world.
Regis Philbin to host ad awards at NY showWell-known TV personality Regis Philbin was slated to present the winners at the IAG Automotive Advertising Awards at the New York International Auto Show’s opening press breakfast on April 4. The awards use data based on responses from 1.5 million national TV viewers from 20 TV networks. Keynote speaker at the breakfast is Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally.
Nissan suspends plans for heavy-duty TitanNissan, one of the first Japanese automakers to upsize its pick-up offering, the result being the Titan, says it has suspended plans to extend the brand into a heavy-duty truck offering. “From a business perspective, we thought that the risk was too high,” Carlos Tavares, Nissan's executive vice president responsible for product planning and design (as well as corporate planning, program, market intelligence and brand management), was quoted from the Geneva Motor Show. Toyota, too, has reportedly put on hold any plans to build a heavy-duty version of the Tundra which was originally expected to be introduced in 2009.
Experiential marketing bigger than ever, says ad chiefJosh McCall, CEO of ad agency Jack Morton Worldwide, writes in a company blog that the popularity of face-to-face marketing is “perfectly suited to our digital age.” McCall uses auto shows as one example, pointing out the “extraordinary media attention” generated and the corresponding coverage in publications and broadcast outlets. “News of the ‘death of the tradeshow’ appears to have been greatly exaggerated,” writes McCall. “Many of the key conferences have, in fact, grown.” But there’s more. “Events also deliver on two of the most sought-after qualities in marketing today. the ability to reach the right audience while they are in the right frame of mind — ready, willing and interested in listening; and the ability to deliver and track measurable results.” McCall offers six steps to improving the effectiveness of show performance.
Comings and Goings in the auto show communityMelissa Dehl, the auto show manager/event planner for the Ohio/Columbus/Toledo Auto Dealers Association, who has been with the organization for nearly 12 years, left at the end of March to join Roush Honda in Westerville (suburban Columbus) where she will be assistant to the general manager. Her replacement at the OADA is Nikki Bragg, who can be reached at 614.799.2232.
Auto show veteran back in the saddle after OEM careerErnie Beckman started out working 10 consecutive summers for a company that made prototype vehicles for automakers – fully engineered cars and trucks that people attending auto shows could admire and, depending on market interest, possibly see in their local dealerships.
Call it “coming full circle” since working with prototypes is something Beckman did at Ford when he began in 1978, his second job after graduating with a business degree from the University of Michigan (he’d started in the engineering school and later transferred to marketing). The first job? At DST, where his father, Ernie Sr., managed the prototype program for Lincoln-Mercury until his retirement in 1984.
At Ford, Beckman Jr. moved to Lincoln a year or so after joining the automaker. In the 1980s, he worked in Ford Racing, moving in and out of auto shows, becoming manager of motor sports at Ford in 1992 and two years later, auto show manager at Ford Division. By 2005, Beckman was managing auto shows for both Ford and Lincoln-Mercury and a year later, completing another full circle, took over responsibility for the company’s prototype vehicles.
Beckman says the biggest changes he saw in the auto show business was in the sophistication of processes related to managing the 80 shows with which Ford is involved.
“When I first walked into Lincoln-Mercury in 1984, we were putting photocopies of display schedules and taping a label on the exhibit properties,” he says. “Today there are documented processes for every element of the auto show program, with the season fully planned out during the summer and set before the first show starts. The level of professionalism is light years ahead of where it was.”
The result, he adds, is increased value to the automaker and its dealers, who share the cost of auto shows on a 50/50 basis (at Ford, dealer groups buy floor space and determine the footprint).
Beckman believes auto shows will continue to be a critical element in the automaker’s marketing strategy.
“It’s the best opportunity for customers to have a hands-on experience and for the manufacturer to have one-on-one personal contact with the purchaser,” he says.
Every product specialist at Ford has a hand-held device to capture customer interest, an activity that recently accounted for 60,000 to 65,000 individual contacts during a season. “Last year we had a 13 percent to 14 percent buy rate and when incentives were involved it was running near 25 percent. That more than validates a manufacturer’s participation in the auto show program.”
At the same time, the improvements in the way companies manage their auto show program has meant even more value to dealers and manufacturers.
“We probably send fewer truck loads today than we did in the 1980s,” says Beckman, pointing to the sophisticated design process that factors in the optimal size of display components based on shipping dimensions. “Exhibit Works (Ford’s main exhibit supplier) provides a lot of that sophistication. They’ve moved the process ahead dramatically.”
Even so, Beckman says not everything in the auto show business has always run as smoothly as he might have liked.
One story involved the scheduled reveal of a concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show. While Beckman won’t be specific, he says during the dress rehearsal, the prototype vehicle simply wouldn’t start.
When that occurred, the prototype was rushed out to – coincidentally, it turns out – DST, which hadn’t done the original work, but installed a new powertrain in time for the next day’s scheduled unveiling.
“They got some very nice thank you letters.”
Rod Alberts, executive director of Detroit's North American International Auto Show, says Beckman is "a stand up guy . . . sometimes a confidant . . . sometimes a sounding board. He didn't always tell you what you wanted to hear but he was typically 'right on' and you could always take it to the bank."
Martha Cusimano, executive director of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association and organizer of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show in Bethlehem, Penn., says she enjoyed working with Beckman.
“Ernie was always very helpful to me personally and to our show,” she says. “He did a very thorough and professional job for Ford but he was always willing to help us do our jobs better. He could laugh and with the seriousness of the business, he brought a sense of fun with him. I'm pleased to have been able to work with him.”
“You never had to wonder where your show stood with Ernie,” says Gempp. “He was always happy to tell you and then back it up with several examples of why. Ernie would break out his 10-foot long matrix showing how Philadelphia ranked against the other auto shows Ford supported, and how can you argue a 10 foot matrix? Fortunately, Ernie was an expert at looking beyond the surface and digging into the value of a market area, and that's why the Ford dealers in Philadelphia have enjoyed one of the largest and most interactive displays in our Auto Show for years.”
John Tulloch, senior vice president of client services at The George P. Johnson Co., while acknowledging that he did not work day-to-day with Beckman, calls him an "engaged, passionate, informed and committed" event marketing veteran. "He also understood the importance of sharing ideas that would benefit both the OEMs and respective event marketing partners, and he valued having fun (and balance) along the way."
Looking ahead, Beckman, an avid biker, says he plans on making time for that pastime, even though he’s back working in an industry he’s come to love.
Indeed, he’ll be at the New York International Auto Show – with a truckload of prototype vehicles his original, and now current, employer is bringing to the event.
E-mail Ernie Beckman at EBeckman@dstindustries.com
Houston: It’s Texas. And it’s trucks.Indeed, with Toyota now building its Tundra and the Lone Star State being a traditional bastion of Ford and Chevy as far as pickups are concerned, it’s little wonder that the Houston International Auto Show had its emphasis on this particular vehicle category.
While there may not have been many minds changed, the show was the place where Houston area auto aficionados got their fill, with some 22 vehicles making their “Texas debut.”
One standout was the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible concept, which arrived in Houston from its debut in Detroit, and then was whisked away to Chicago a week later.
Toepke says dealer support for the show is likely behind the decision to include Houston as a stop for the Camaro. “It wasn’t originally scheduled to be in Houston, but a full court press by the dealers helped change that.”
Toyota was also in the Ride and Drive game, with its On Site Off Road Adventure coming back for a repeat performance.
Good support from media, including radio stations, helped with attendance, says Toepke, although attendance was off slightly from the previous year.
The show also included a classic car area (this year featuring Thunderbirds and Lincolns) and a Saturday and Sunday Kids Fun Zone complete with obstacle course, crash course, Grand Prix, monster truck jump, face painting, temporary tattoos, bean-bag toss, tire shoot-out and arts and crafts.
Montreal: Multi-level show improves traffic flowThink there’s a challenge involved in moving auto show attendees from one building to another or even across a parking lot or two?
How about through three floors?
“We did experience some frustration from visitors, last year,” says Dessureault. “They were going from the bottom up and by the time they got to the top, they were tired.”
The new flow? Visitors started at the fifth level, moved down to the second and ended up on the first. As an option, visitors could take in a seventh floor exhibit—dubbed Seventh Heaven—which featured a selection of exotics from Bentley, Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati, Aston Martin, Lotus and T-Rex.
“It was very effective,” says Dessureault. “It may have been a psychological difference but we set up the entire hall so that when people left a smaller hall and went down, they were entering a bigger area.”
Getting to the point where the visitor flow was redesigned also meant making sure exhibitors were supportive of the new plan.
“It was definitely a team effort,” says Dessureault. “Everyone was given the opportunity of being involved and when we presented the new plan to manufacturers, we had the support we needed to proceed.”
The Montreal show enjoyed some 47 Canadian premiers.
Also on display was the Callaway C16, based on the Chevrolet Corvette, fresh from a world unveiling at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Dessureault says the auto show’s emphasis on environmentally friendly vehicles, first introduced two years ago, has since been expanded and now takes up some 16,000 square feet with more manufacturers involved.
A Charity Preview evening raised more than a quarter million dollars to benefit a handful of health care facilities in the region, with a combined total raised in the last five years now surpassing $750,000. Also on the health care front, the show’s annual blood drive generated more than 800 units, with each donor receiving a free ticket to the show.
The show itself is what Dessureault calls “compact.” Still, it’s an impressive one. “With all the lighting and the quality of the displays we have, plus everything being so close and colorful, it’s a very nice show to see.”
Philadelphia: Good weather, no football bumps up attendanceIt’s not that snow is a bad thing. Just not during the auto show. And while just about everyone in the City of Brotherly Love loves the NFL Eagles, having them in the Championship Series does impact attendance at the Philadelphia International Show.
But attendance, as important as it is, hasn’t taken the focus away from the overriding purpose of the show itself, at least as far as Gempp and Mazzucola are concerned.
“The sole purpose of the show is to have an impact on the market,” says Mazzucola. “We want to help people make a decision on what they’re going to buy in the future.”
And there’s a lot of those people out there, with exit surveys showing 58 percent of show attendees intending to buy in the next 12 months, and 88 percent saying the auto show was successful in making that decision.
“That’s where the rubber meets the road,” says Gempp. “Everything we do is making sure the show makes that stimulus and delivers the information people find necessary to make that next purchase decision.”
Gempp adds that strong support from automakers helped make the show a popular one.
“It was the heaviest show we’ve ever had as far as freight was concerned,” says Gempp. “A lot of manufacturers stepped up their displays, which shows us that we’ve started to turn the corner on the labor front.”
Gempp’s comments are a reflection of past woes the city had regarding the perceived smoothness of the show move-in process, concerns that have apparently been eased.
That direction includes a major expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which will swell from its present 550,000 square feet to just shy of 900,000 square feet of exhibit space by 2011.
Actual work on the expanded convention site will begin this summer. The Philadelphia International Auto Show won’t be affected by construction.
On the other hand, construction of a new Web site for the auto show has impacted consumers in the most positive way.
“We’ve totally redesigned the site to be much more focused when it comes to buying a new vehicle,” says Mazzucola. “Whether people are looking at a preproduction vehicle or a hybrid, we’re helping them get the information about new vehicles.”
The Web site now includes links to manufacturers, allowing consumers to “build” their next new vehicle.
Additional features of the site include online ticket sales, an area that’s producing “amazing” results, says Gempp. “We had the highest number of Web hits ever.”
Organizers have also beefed up the show program book, a magazine style publication that includes a comprehensive buyer’s guide section with full color pictures and vehicle specifications.
“Dealers are already telling us that people are showing up at the showroom with the program in hand,” says Gempp.
Prior to the show itself, a black-tie preview event raised about $250,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, supported by the Auto Dealers Caring for Kids Foundation. Another $1 from each auto show admission went to the foundation in support of children.
Spokane: Steady economy, good support are hallmarksFourteen years ago, Kip Nedved found himself in a difficult spot.
“It was a difficult time for everybody,” says Nedved, who stepped in at the last minute to pick up the pieces. “We had very little experience, but a lot of help from a lot of people.”
The result was a successful show. And the involvement of Nedved ever since.
The three-day Spokane show benefits from a stable economy, “incredibly stable,” says Nedved.
And while the Spokane show at just 150,000 square feet is admittedly small by some standards, Nedved says the event enjoys good support from manufacturers. “We have all the major players and it’s been like that for some time. We’ve actually enjoyed steady growth.”
An example of that support came in the form of Toyota’s new Highway to the Future Mobile Hybrid Experience, an interactive exhibit that the automaker debuted at the Chicago Auto Show, which then found its way west to Spokane.
“It turned out to be a great addition to the show,” says Nedved, who says a combination of great exhibits and “tremendous media support” contributed to a 20 percent increase in attendance, with the Toyota display helping to drive attendance through media exposure.
“We made it possible for each of the individual exhibitors to participate in a Ride and Drive event,” says Nedved. “Instead of leaving it up to individual exhibitors, we institutionalized it as part of the overall promotion of the show.
Another annual feature is a preview night, although not for charity. “It’s very similar but it’s something that we have just for dealers and their guests,” says Nedved. “It’s their opportunity to go through the show but without the crowds.”
Washington: 'Congressional show' positioning gains momentumQuick: What does Washington D.C. have that’s unique among other auto show cities in America?
If “lawmakers and regulators” (and a few other names) came to mind, you and Gerry Murphy, president of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, which produces the Washington International Auto Show, are of like minds.
It’s exactly that thinking that is transforming the D.C. show, says Murphy.
“Congress is the de facto partner when it comes to the auto industry,” says Murphy.
But it gets better.
Murphy hasn’t overlooked the diplomatic missions from countries who either have an active automotive industry or want to be in the business.
In fact, an interest from the German embassy last year followed with discussions with auto show organizers as to how one of Europe’s largest car building countries (home of Volkswagen, BMW and DaimlerChrysler) could get out the message about the virtues of clean-burning diesel.
The German initiative included the ambassador to the U.S. holding a dinner party, in part featuring DaimlerChrysler chief Dieter Zetsche, and attended by representatives from the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies, including the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.
Murphy, who was also in attendance at the event, says the message was a powerful one—and the Washington International Auto Show was pleased to help facilitate.
He’d also like to see more of the same in future years.
“It’s our vision to make this show a global event, a place where we can be the backdrop for the kind of dialogue and conversation that needs to go on between automakers and law makers.”
Still, Murphy acknowledges that the show will remain a strong consumer event as well.
“Taking it from a regional show to a global one presupposes that you’re going to have a strong public response as well,” he says.
At the same time, a relatively new world class convention center has set the stage for shows of this caliber. “It’s a very elegant public building,” says Murphy.
A sidebar benefit of focusing on giving the auto show more of a global footprint is the positive impact it will have on the hospitality industry.
“We’ve retained an advisor to help us with the hospitality industry component,” says Murphy. “The idea is to drill down on the number of hotel room visitors that the auto show produces. And there may be a potential for other automotive related industries being involved in using the auto show as a backdrop for conversations in advanced technologies.”
Murphy adds that the increased stature of the auto show should help when it comes to the dates of the show. “The public convention center controls your dates. But if you become a global show, you’re more convention-like which could put us in a position to command even better dates.”
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
Gary Thomas, ATAE Chairman
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Peter Hodges, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor