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.
Genuine super hero car coming to an auto show near youWhat more can you say about a car that whisks four super heroes through the air at 550 mph at an altitude of 30,000 feet? If you've seen the Marvel Comics' movie "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" you've already had a glimpse. First shown at the Frankfurt International Motor Show and, now, North American shows, too, beginning this month in San Diego, the vehicle, which sports the Dodge's signature crosshair grille with ram’s head logo, can separate into three sections, each with deployable wings, and is able to maintain the same speed and performance as the entire craft. Well, at least in the movie. And, yes, it has a Hemi.
Road & Travel announces nominees for 'Car of Year'As the Road & Travel Magazine “International Car of the Year” (ICOTY) program approaches its 12th annual event Jan. 12, 2008, on the eve of the North American International Auto Show, the panel of automotive journalists has named its top three choices in some 10 categories.
“The emotionally compelling theme on which we present our awards represents the relationship consumers have with their cars,” says Caldwell. “It’s about how cars reflect our lifestyles and image of self – an attitude most consumers identify with.”
In addition to the top ten ICOTY awards, RTM will present the fourth annual “Heart String Award,” honoring an automaker and its advertising agency for the most emotionally compelling car commercial for 2007. The ICOTY jury will also present the first ever “Earth Angel Award,” recognizing the manufacturer with the most significant strides on environmental initiatives worldwide.
Brady named Automotive Hall of Fame Industry Leader of the YearPhillip D. Brady, who for the last six years has served as president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, has been named “Industry Leader of the Year” by the Automotive Hall of Fame. The honor is in recognition of Brady's unwavering commitment and key support of the industry as a whole, says Jeffrey K. Leestma, AHF president. "There are always a number of very deserving candidates to consider for Industry Leader of the Year. Phil Brady is one who simply stood out in the view of the selection committee and his being honored is one that resounds with all who hear of it."
"Phil Brady has made and continues to make very substantive contributions to the automotive industry as a whole and the very important retail component of this industry. It's gratifying to see those contributions being recognized by the Automotive Hall of Fame, recognition that is very appropriate and certainly deserving. We all share in wishing Phil congratulations for such a high honor."
Brady will be honored at the AHF Annual Awards Luncheon in conjunction with the NADA Convention, Feb. 10, 2008, in San Francisco. For information on the event, contact the AHF at 313.240.4000.
PR agency lauded for work on Oklahoma City showA public relations agency in Oklahoma City won four industry awards from the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, three of them related to its work on the Oklahoma City International Auto Show, held Mar. 8-11, 2007. Jones Public Relations, Inc., headed by Brenda Jones, won the “Best of Show,” “Best of Campaigns,” and the “Upper Case Award” for Public Relations Campaigns. “Jones PR is a true strategic partner to our show,” says ATAE Peter Hodges, Metropolitan Auto Dealers Association, which presents the Oklahoma City International Auto Show, now in its 91st year. “Brenda and her team work very hard and contribute to the success of our show. They are very deserving of these prestigious awards.”
Jury narrows field for North American Car/Truck of Year honorsAn independent jury has selected the Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord as finalists for the 2008 North American Car of the Year. North American Truck of the Year finalists are the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and Mazda CX-9. Winners will be announced on Jan. 13 at a news conference at the start of media days at the North American International Auto Show.
Comings and Goings
Brendan Flynn is the new director of communications for the LA Auto Show. Immediately prior to joining the show, he worked as a vice president at Fleishman Hillard International Communications, spearheading marketing and public relations for Yahoo! Autos, Jiffy Lube, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car and custom car show Hot Import Nights. Flynn began his career at Ogilvy & Mather Public Relations, where he helped launch new vehicles for Hyundai. A native Los Angelino, he has a bachelor's degree in journalism from California Polytechnic University.
Curt McAllister, a seasoned public relations professional (most recently with John Bailey & Associates in Troy, Mich.) has joined Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. , Inc. as product news manager for Midwest corporate communications. At Bailey, he helped manage the agency's automotive division, working with clients such as Hyundai and Volkswagen. At Toyota, McAllister will manage news programs in 15 states, working with journalists in southeastern Michigan and other metropolitan areas in the Midwest.
Chrysler and its vice president of communications are parting ways. Jason H. Vines, who began his career at the automaker in 1983, left in 1998 to become vice president-communications for Nissan North America. Two years later, Vines became vice president-communications at Ford Motor Company, returning to Chrysler in 2003 in his most recent role. Chrysler's news release also announced a realignment of the corporate communication function, with Nancy Rae, senior vice president of human resources, assuming responsibility for the corporate communications group. Internal and corporate communications, including media relations, will be managed by David Barnas, who has been with the group six years.
Boston: With double the space, show is buzzingIt's not that the New England International Auto Show hadn't been eyeing the new Boston Convention & Exhibit Center, with its 500,000 square feet of space and ceilings that start from 42-feet at the walls and reach 100-feet in the center. It's just that consumer shows – auto shows are in that category – weren't permitted until very recently.
"We used to have a tent set up to accommodate all that needed to be there," says Pudney. "Now we have all this space – it's absolutely gorgeous."
The New England team put together a show that will likely set new standards for the space, but mostly they added features that weren't possible in the 290,000 square feet they had in the Boston Expo Center.
"Besides having all of the exotics, we were able to bring in a number of classic versions, thanks to the Museum of Transportation," says Pudney. "It was a very nice contrast to the new models."
Dr. Amar Bose, whose world-famous eponymous company had its start in the area (he was a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), unveiled a new suspension system for automobiles. Jack Roush, of Roush Fenway Racing, made an autograph signing appearance, as did Red Sox legend Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd. And, there was also an autograph signing session by rally racing star Alex Roy.
Motorcycle stunts also played a role in the show, with three daily appearances by former Xtreme Trials Champion Tommi Ahvala.
The American Trucking Association's “Share the Road” highway safety program was also featured as an initiative to reduce the fatality and accident rate on America's roadways. Attendees learned safe driving tips from professional truck drivers on site.
The New England show also featured a Dodge Grand Caravan giveaway (courtesy of the New England Dodge Dealers, which had done the same for the Connecticut show). But this time, a quiz show format was organized with the ultimate winner being one who correctly answered questions from the product specialist's presentation on the vehicle.
Hartford: With growth, show becoming more regionalIt's a refrain often heard among auto show producers: if there was more space, we could sell it.
At the same time, the Connecticut show managed to see a 14 percent increase in attendance.
The secret? Paragon Expo's Barbara Pudney attributes the bump in gate action to a combination of advertising and media attention.
"What we did was increase the frequency of our advertising buy," she says. "Instead of doing 60 second spots on radio, we did a tremendous amount of 15 second spots. We also had lots of different features in the spots but we made sure we had the show name, date and location."
With the extra space in the ballroom, organizers were able to put all the luxury lines in one placed. "It gave an exclusive sense to that area," Pudney notes, recalling how the addition of live jazz entertainment fit nicely with the luxury vehicle atmosphere.
And even though having just one elevator ("one vehicle at a time") made it something of a logistics challenge, it's a setup likely worth repeating, especially since people were permitted to actually sit in the exotics, not something that's typical.
The show also featured a Kid's Stop Pit Stop play area, giving parents the opportunity of checking out everything else at the show.
Additional contests, all designed to build attendance, included an hourly giveaway of lift tickets to Okemo and Sunapee mountains and gift certificates for area stores and restaurants. A Richard Petty Driving Experience contest featured a $1,500 gift certificate and a $200 NASCAR prize pack.
A $500 gas card giveaway and a "night on the town" prize that included chauffeured limo transportation, a salon makeover, and theater tickets was also part of the show.
And the Hartford Courant newspaper, a show sponsor, came to the party with a totally tricked out Dodge Ram, a blue beauty entirely redone and refurbished, complete with airbrushing.
The bigger facility (now 160,000 square feet, the show was previously in the 63,000-square-foot Connecticut Expo Center) has also contributed to a broadening of the show's reach.
"It's growing from a city show," says Pudney, referring to its Hartford location. "Now it's more of a statewide event and we're pulling people in from New Haven, Fairfield County and Springfield. It's a much broader circle."
Los Angeles: With new dates settling in, growth continuesWith the LA Auto Show, held Nov. 14-25, settling into its second year of its new dates, "bigger" seems to be the operative word.
"People are getting used to the new dates," he says, noting that last year's attendance had slipped slightly, most likely due to the date change. "They're settling into the timing now." The Thanksgiving holiday weekend significantly boosted attendance, says Flynn. "We had a four-day final weekend instead of two days. That made a big difference."
So did the commitment of manufacturers to the show.
"We saw larger and more elaborate exhibits," says Flynn. "That was evidenced not just by looking out at the show floor – we had to order double the number of motors used to lift the racks of lights used by exhibitors. It's one of those tangible measurements we look to."
"We expanded everything," says Flynn. "The media center, where we had an overflow room, our headcount for breakfasts and lunches, all were up this year."
Flynn points to strong executive participation among auto manufacturers, including appearances by Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Nissan/Renault's Carlos Ghosn, GM's Bob Lutz and Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli.
A continuing theme for LA is that of design, a logical extension of the geographic emphasis Southern California has had on that part of the overall automotive industry.
The show's “Design Los Angeles” conference included a "RoboCar 2057 Design Challenge.” The challenge: provide a vision of the future by depicting a vehicle that incorporates artificial intelligence engineered to make life easier and more attractive to customers 50 years from now. Eight studios participated. The winner: Volkswagen's Slipstream design sketch.
Chuck Pelly, director of Design Los Angeles and partner in The Design Academy, Inc., was impressed with all the entries.
"In the end, it came down to which team had the most innovative and fun design that could be best applied to a daily lifestyle. Volkswagen's designers showed passion and ultimately created a brighter vision of 2057."
A little closer to present day was the “2008 Green Car of the Year” event, sponsored by Green Car Journal. The winning vehicle was the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, a vehicle that offers a 30 percent boost in fuel efficiency compared with a standard V-8.
Green Car Journal Publisher Ron Cogan says GM's accomplishment in bringing hybrid technology to a full-size SUV can't be overstated. "For years consumers have been buying SUVs in increasing numbers, but with larger vehicles generally comes poorer fuel economy. An 'equalizer' has been needed… and the two-mode hybrid system in the Tahoe is clearly that equalizer."
Flynn sees the future of the LA Auto Show one that will continue to offer manufacturers more opportunities to introduce vehicles that might otherwise be overlooked.
"A lot of them want to introduce high end luxury vehicles and exotics or small, more urban vehicles. I think next year, we'll see a steady growth as manufacturers recognize what LA has to offer."
Orlando: Busy convention center forces one-year date changeIn one of those rare breaks with tradition, this season's Nov. 15-18 Central Florida International Auto Show wasn't held over Thanksgiving Weekend, which presented Barbara Miller with one of her own challenges.
Finding her way around the kitchen wasn't the only challenge she faced.
"Actually, going into the show, we didn't know what to expect," says Miller, who heads the Orlando-area dealer organization. "There were a lot of unknowns going in. We've always been five days during Thanksgiving and this year it was a four-day show a week before."
Even with those date changes (a one-year issue related to long-term scheduling at the convention center), Miller says the auto show experienced only a slight decline in attendance.
Even better news: next year, they'll go back to the traditional Thanksgiving dates.
Still, this year's show included a number of highlights, including the first-ever vehicle introduction, the unveiling of the Corvette Z06 Official Pace Car for the 2008 Daytona 500, the 50th anniversary of the classic race. Driver Kevin Harvick was at the show to unveil the vehicle.
As usual, the auto show featured lots to do for kids, including a climbing wall in the Dodge display and a Kids' Day with Ronald McDonald.
Miller says the show experienced a spectacular 54 percent increase in e-ticket sales this year, something she says is bound to continue to gain ground.
An ongoing legacy associated with the auto show is the Central Florida Auto Dealers Association $10.4 million Professional Automotive Training Center, located on the campus of Seminole Community College. Last January's dedication of the facility culminated a 10-year process which saw the CFADA raise a total of $3 million (matching state funds doubled that amount).
The center, which now houses CFADA offices, hosts a monthly sales training program and other workshops and includes a 2,000-square-foot automotive showroom.
Phoenix: More advertising, expanding database part of future plansWhen do people decide to go to the auto show?
"It gave us more frequency," says Ramsey. "The result was that we actually increased attendance a little this year."
The event also benefited from the strong public relations efforts of Spin PR's DeeDee Taft, says Ramsey. "We got a lot of play in the newspaper."
Ramsey says he's pleased with how the show played out, especially given the competition among other car-related events in the Phoenix area.
"We have a number of things people want to go to," he notes. "We have hot rods a week or two before. And there are tent sales that take place, plus the Barrett-Jackson event, all of which compete for the interest of the car enthusiast."
The question, Ramsey says, is "how to distinguish your event from the other events.”
The answer: “We work very hard to separate ourselves."
Yes, his strategy includes extensive promotion. But it's also what is said about the auto show that Ramsey says is important.
"One of the things we concentrate on is that this is a non-selling show, which means people are going to be in a consumer-friendly environment, where they're able to get information about vehicles that are available, without being pressured in any way."
"We're continually looking for ways to capture e-mail addresses, helping people buy tickets online if that's something they'd like to do. And we're also reaching out to organizations in town, getting them discount tickets that they can offer to their members as well."
One very effective pre-show marketing tool was the placement of a $2 discount sticky note on the Arizona Republic newspaper a day before the show.
"We had a pretty significant redemption on that," says Ramsey. "And we have a great relationship with the newspaper."
Show organizers also worked on building as much media attention for some of the more unusual vehicles on display, including the Smart car. "Most of the time it had a huge crowd of people around it," says Ramsey. "It was definitely a draw."
The show also included two successful Ride & Drive events: Chevy featured its Malibu, Ford brought a selection of vehicles.
As far as the future is concerned, Ramsey says the auto show is more than halfway through a three-year expansion effort that will ultimately see the Phoenix Convention Center double its space. In the meantime, spectacular weather is making that transition a lot easier than it might be if the show were in a more northerly location.
"It's especially the case when we have to move people around due to the expansion."
Still, Ramsey is pushing for improvements.
One area: reaching out to even more contacts. "We have to work harder at building up the database and communicating with people by e-mail," he says. "Sure, we don't want to become pests, but we'll probably be looking at making a ticket offer to people we've got a connection with and doing so as the next show gets closer."
Seattle: Show continues to set its own standardJim Hammond may be running out of superlatives to describe what's clearly an auto show that just keeps getting better and better.
One key measurement was the sheer size of the exhibits brought to the Qwest Field Event Center.
"We had some 1.25 million pounds of freight arrive here," says Hammond, who also runs the Puget Sound Automobile Dealers Association. "There was so much freight we were running out of space to store the crates; we had to use warehouses across the street."
Clearly not a hardship.
"GM blew us away," he says. "They were just amazing, not only in bringing all their brands, but their green kit, the hybrids, hydrogen cars, electric vehicles; it was a huge thing for us in a city that's very green."
A bevy of alternative fuel vehicles were on hand at the show, among them biodiesel and full electric.
Hammond pointed to a good selection of exotics, including the Lotus Exige as well as displays by Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Jaguar, Lotus, Maserati, Aston Martin and Porsche that widened the appeal of the event.
Even a display by boutique Dutch manufacturer Spyker, with its high end Laviolette vehicle, was featured.
Hammond says he was especially impressed with a full-size "Match It" game show exhibit by AutoTrader.com, one of the show's sponsors. The set included big screens a live announcer and link ups with shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which also took part in a $25,000 sweepstakes. "It was very high energy and exciting."
Another sponsor, State Farm (which has naming rights to the event) had three locations throughout the building, including one with a 200 mph simulator that attracted its own never-ending lines.
From a vehicle standpoint, the Harold E. LeMay Museum, based in Tacoma, Wash., was once again featured at the show. "We give them an entire section to themselves," notes Hammond. "They bring some of their very extensive collection of premium vehicles to us every year."
Hammond was impressed with how the media supported the show, including two special automobile sections – one by the business department, the other the auto department – published by the Seattle Times.
The show continued its "First Night for Charity" in support of Junior Achievement of Washington, the third year for the event. Hammond points to generous support by Toyota, which provided a Highlander Hybrid to give away, and also gives credit to the Chicago Auto Show in helping Seattle develop the charity event. "It takes time to grow an event like this," notes Hammond, who says current money raised is about $100,000 a year.
Once again, the Seattle show continued to take extra good care of the product specialists and narrators who work the event, providing a special area with refreshments and massage treatments.
"We're known for taking care of the people who work here."
Tampa: Show generates strong interest while helping charityIn Tampa Bay, last year's experiment with yachts gave way to a different sort of water-related attraction: rubber ducks.
"In that respect, it was more of a neutral," says Wilson.
So what about those ducks?
Held Nov. 8-11, the Tampa Bay International Auto Show put on a "Lucky Ducky Derby," with proceeds going to the Second Harvest Food Bank. With tickets sold at the auto show, the event (a block away) generated a good deal of interest as a multitude of rubber ducks were tossed into the Garrison Channel, then funneled into one location.
"We gave them [the Second Harvest] the space to sell the tickets," notes Wilson.
For its part the auto show got to see what show organizers most want to see: more people. And more vehicles. Some 400 vehicles were on display this year, including a good selection from the world famous DuPont Registry.
The auto show was also one of the featured stops for CNN's Warrior One, the Hummer that earned its reporting stripes in Iraq before being overhauled and put on tour.
Wilson says the typical Tampa Bay weather made for great attendance figures, so much so that for the first time in recent memory, there were 15-20 minute line-ups for tickets.
Two Ride and Drive events (by GM and Volvo) took place in front of the Tampa Convention Center. GM brought its GM Experience, which included the new Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac CTS, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, Pontiac G6 GXP Street Edition, GMC Sierra Denali, Saturn Aura, Saab 9-3 Convertible and Hummer H3. And Volvo showcased its all-new Volvo C30 and XC70 vehicles.
Concept cars featured at the show included the Chrysler Airflite and Dodge Tomahawk. Most of the looks of the Airflite (mainly the front and rear) are said to be based on the Crossfire; the seven-spoke road wheel design is based on the Pacifica. The Viper-powered Dodge Tomahawk concept vehicle (that resembles a motorcycle) is a four-wheel, single-passenger vehicle that combines art-deco styling with extreme engineering. Each pair of wheels is separated by a few inches and each wheel has an independent suspension. The 500-horsepower Viper V-10 engine powering the dual rear wheels gives the vehicle a potential top speed of nearly 400 miles per hour.
Other concepts at the show included the Chevrolet Sequel, Ford Reflex, Ford Shelby GR-1 and Suzuki Hip Hop.
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
4/4/2008 - 4/6/2008
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Denise Brennan, ATAE Chairman
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
ASNA Focus Group Steering Committee
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor