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.
Philly’s Mazzucola to head ATAE; sees strengthening ASNA as goalIncoming ATAE President Kevin Mazzucola says he hopes his term will include making Auto Shows of North America even stronger than it has been since he and several key association leaders formed ASNA some seven years ago.
“Auto shows continue to play a huge role in what metro associations do and don’t do,” says Mazzucola. “I’d like to see ASNA strengthened in the role of helping with the gathering and sharing of information. The need is there and I think we’ll all win as a result of any improvements we can make.”
Mazzucola says he’s appointing a committee to evaluate how the ASNA program is meeting the need, with significant discussion to take place at the 2008 ASNA Summer Meetings near San Diego.
“In the past, the Summer Meetings have allowed smaller shows to interact with decision makers at the manufacturers or exhibit companies where they do not readily have that opportunity,” adds Mazzucola. “We need to ensure that aspect of the meetings remains a key part of the ASNA experience.”
Stay tuned for more information in a future issue of The Auto Show Report.
ASNA Summer Meeting dates setThis year's Auto Shows of North America Summer Meeting is scheduled for July 15-16 at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif. Steering committee members Mike Gempp, Philadelphia; Holly Riedel, Milwaukee; John Sackrison, Anaheim/Orange County; and Shayne Wilson, Atlanta, are developing an agenda for the July 16 meeting. A reception is to be held on July 15.
North American Car/Truck of the Year namedThe Chevrolet Malibu is the 2008 North American Car of the Year, and the Mazda CX-9 is the 2008 North American Truck of the Year, the result of a judging process involving 15 car and 13 truck finalists. Some 45 automotive journalists participate in the awards program, the results of which were announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month. The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding new vehicles of the year based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
Indian manufacturer may bring truck to U.S.India's Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. is reportedly set on selling pickups in the United States but hasn't decided whether to import them or build them here, according to a story by Richard Truett of Automotive News. The company’s automotive unit, led by Pawan Goenka, is expected to decide “relatively soon” whether to import the truck or build it from knockdown kits in the United States. About 200 dealers have been selected for a launch, expected to be in the next 15 months. The U.S. distributor is Global Vehicles USA Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga. Mahindra is among the world's largest tractor makers and is the market leader in the utility vehicle and SUV segments in India.
International dealers attending NADA conventionNot only dealers from the United States but from around the world are attending the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco, starting Sat., Feb. 8. Some 335 Australians have registered, according to a report published in Automotive News. The next highest number of registrants is Canada (312), followed by the United Kingdom (245). Brazil (145) and Italy (105) round out the top five. Delegates from 32 countries have registered, according to the NADA.
Navigation devices among most popular at CESMark Vaughn, AutoWeek’s senior west coast editor, reports that personal navigation devices were among the most touted examples of automotive technology at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With suppliers of up-to-the-minute data, among them MSN Direct and Yahoo, providing traffic and weather reports, movie times and gasoline prices, consumers can expect news, stock quotes and information on local events to appear on the navigation systems. Vaughn was particularly enamored with the Dash Express, which offers two-way connectivity, giving other Dash users the ability to make the data even more accurate. Another innovation comes from VoiceBox Technologies, which offers a conversational-voice-search product expected to be in Pioneer and Magellan models coming out this spring.
Chicago reaches 100th show milestone
Chrysler unveils long-awaited Challenger at Chicago
Comings and goingsDan Bedore, who last year left Ford Motor Company’s product and brand communications staff after 12 years, has been hired by Hyundai Motor America. As national public relations manager, Bedore is responsible for product public relations in Detroit, Chicago and the rest of the Midwest. Based in the Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center near Ann Arbor in Superior Township, Mich., Bedore reports to Jim Trainor, national manager, Product Public Relations, and works closely with the PR team at headquarters in Fountain Valley, Calif., supporting Hyundai Motor America's growing presence in the market.
Jason Vines, who resigned his position as communications VP with Chrysler LLC in December, has landed a new position as senior vice president, Compuware 2.0. Vines' global responsibilities will include all internal and external communications, investor relations, government affairs and marketing of Compuware's corporate brand and the brands of its products. In addition, Vines will work closely with Compuware founder Peter Karmanos Jr. and other partners in their efforts to continue the revitalization of downtown Detroit and Southeastern Michigan.
Albany: ‘Free’ show pulls entirely different market in state capitalYes, there are two auto shows in Albany, New York’s state capital. But don’t get the idea that it’s a duplication of effort for the Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers, Inc.
“They don’t overlap at all,” says Perrella.
Clearly, Perrella and her team, including Deborah Dorman, president of the dealer association, have twice as much work.
But even talk of a convention center (word has it that it will be in place by 2011) doesn’t mean for sure that Albany will combine the two shows. “There is a thought out there that we might go to one show,” says Perrella. “But we don’t want to lose what we have with two entirely different audiences.”
And even though there aren’t a lot of static entertainment features, “we do what we can with walk around balloon artists, magicians and so forth. But the real focus is getting brand new models to this event. Because we’re not just in the spring, we can showcase the new cars at a different time of the year.”
Also on the positive side, staging the Empire State Plaza event is easier for exhibitors, mostly because of ceiling heights and a ban on the use of forklifts.
Still, there are challenges, mostly related to fitting all the available vehicles in the less than 50,000 square feet of space allotted. Or, as Dorman has said, “it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.”
The hard work is worth it, considering the distinct bottom line effect at the dealerships. “For the two weeks during and the two weeks following, dealers report high volumes and sales. That’s consistent year after year and people will say they’ve just come from the auto show,” says Perrella.
Austin: Steady growth, solid show has dealer group smilingA modest bump in attendance and a continuation of a solid partnership with the daily newspaper in the Texas state capital has members of the Austin Automobile Dealers Association smiling, including executive director Mike Marks.
In what may be a unique relationship, the newspaper actually handles all promotional and marketing activities for the show, leaving it to the dealer group to arrange for the appearance of vehicles at the event, including a growing list of concept cars.
Graves, who spends about one-third of her time on the auto show, arranges for live bands and, this year, appearances by actors from the TV show Friday Night Lights, a program that features high school football as the backdrop. Actors featured included Brad Leland (Buddy Garrity), Jesse Plemons (Landry Clarke) and Gaius Charles ("Smash" Williams).
The music is clearly important, given Austin’s reputation as a live music capital.
Additional entertainment features such as Lucha Libra (Mexican wrestling), giveaways that included a cash cube grab, where someone has 30 seconds to gather as much money as they can, and a trip to the New York International Auto Show.
Pre-Christmas Visa gift cards were also given out.
A Kid’s Zone that included a NASCAR simulator and baseball speed pitch helped bring families to the auto show, says Graves.
The payback for the newspaper partnership is mostly in the form of advertising, although there is some sharing of gate revenue. The dealership group keeps the revenue from exhibit space.
Birmingham: Working to shift crowds from weekend to weekdaySome things change. And some things remain the same.
From the change standpoint, Brett McBrayer’s Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association (of which he is president), says the Alabama International Auto Show, which was held Nov. 8-11, 2007, saw great success with the expansion of Ride and Drive programs, this year bringing in features from General Motors and Chrysler.
What McBrayer continues to concentrate on is efforts to move heavy weekend auto show traffic to the less busy Thursday and Friday dates. “We’re going to do even more of that,” he says. “They can bring in canned goods for the homeless and needy and get special pricing, but we’re continuing to look for other ways to move the traffic. It’s the only thing we can do.”
Organizers are also continuing to focus on new ways of showcasing new vehicles, notably this year with the first-ever “Cars, Keys and a Cure Auto Show Preview Gala,” a private sneak preview to the Alabama International Auto Show that included a limited live and silent auction of first-quality items, cocktail supper and live entertainment.
“This year the event benefited the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation and the Alabama/Gulf Coast chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” says McBrayer, who is still putting together the final totals for the charitable initiative.
Looking ahead, McBrayer says the ongoing success of the auto show is allowing the event to become a 100 percent charitable one, likely as early as 2010.
“We already do a lot of vehicle donation programs in the association,” says McBrayer. “This year’s gala preview showed us that there’s even more potential for recognizing the generosity of the general public and the dealership community.”
Those ongoing dealership initiatives include the Toys for Tots partnership with the Marine Corps.
McBrayer says the show remains a top priority for dealers, not least of which is the effect it has on driving traffic to the showrooms.
“People tell us in our exit surveys that this is the case,” says McBrayer. “The test drive, in particular, is a key part of the consumer’s experience, but that’s the wave of the future for us. Anything we can do to help with that process is going to be positive.”
Charlotte: Show continues to build media momentumA strategy launched a year ago by Dick Lewis, who directs the Charlotte International Auto Show for the Greater Charlotte Automobile Dealers Association, continues to reap benefits.
Lewis, who works with ATAE Loretta Allman, says last year’s positive response continues to grow.
“We increased our radio and TV advertising budget,” says Lewis. “And we received exceptional cooperation from the media. Our five television stations did a taping of the show on the first day and ran that tape Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the show.”
And even though space limitations at the show necessitated a reduction in the number of radio remotes at the show, support was strong.
The momentum translated into a total attendance boost of 17 percent over last year, 35 percent on Saturday alone.
Lewis says media support was the key, one reason he intends to continue with pre-auto show gathering of media at a local country club, at which dealer association members are present to make their case for continued support.
“It has the desired effect,” says Lewis, of the luncheon.
Show features include a Family Day (Saturday) where high school bands and a Shrine band share the venue with clowns, face painters and stilt walkers.
There are also various team mascots, cartoon characters such as Scooby-Doo, and an appearance by Spider-Man as well as a return of Shannon Wiseman, co-host of the NASCAR Angels TV program.
Charlotte continued to capitalize on a large concentration of office workers in what is one of the nation’s largest banking centers. A free lunch from noon to 2 p.m. (hot dog and soft drink) on Thursday and Friday helped draw in additional crowds.
Lewis also repeated an off-site initiative with the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport that began last year, the placement of banners in each of the four concourse areas, along with discount coupons visitors could redeem at the show.
“We did get a lot of people redeeming coupons this year,” says Lewis, referring not only to those placed at the airport, but a sticky note that was placed on editions of the Charlotte Observer. “Some 70 percent of attendees had some sort of coupon and of those, 78 percent were from our Website or various media Websites. We also encouraged radio and TV stations to put the discount coupons on their sites as well.”
The result, Lewis says, is very much a sense of partnership with the auto show.
“It brings everyone together.”
Harrisburg: Attendance up slightly, e-ticket success in PennsylvaniaUp is up.
So says Ray Bromley, the dealer/ATAE who heads the Harrisburg Automotive Trade Association, and the Pennsylvania Auto & Boat Show, Jan. 23-27, 2008.
Bromley says the bump wasn’t necessarily expected. “Our expectations weren’t real, real high, especially considering all the tough economic news out there.”
Still, it was a great show, with many of the features that make the Pennsylvania event a popular one with attendees.
That included a repeat of the Corvette Concours competition, a sanctioned event that attracts many attendees and participants. “They very much look forward to it,” says Bromley, who runs both Volvo and Saab franchises in the area.
The Pennsylvania show continues to stand out in other respects, one being the fact that selling is permitted at the event, although as Bromley has said, manufacturers typically lean toward more brand- and relationship-building at the show.
In addition, several boating safety organizations, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and Susquehannock Power & Sail Squadron displayed and distributed literature. A new feature - Towing Row - showcased a variety of vehicles with exceptional towing capabilities.
As Bromley explains, an emphasis on the marketing of e-tickets proved to be something of a breakthrough.
“We did three times the volume of what we did last year,” he adds, the result of a focus on e-mail invitations plus a $1 discount off full price.
“That seemed to do it,” says Bromley. “People who would normally go to the Website to save $2 would go to the e-ticket to save $1. It worked out very well from both a revenue standpoint and eased the pressure on our ticket booths, the result being fewer lines.”
Bromley intends to put even more effort into the strategy next year, with help from the e-mail addresses the system collects when people buy their e-tickets.
What visitors can expect is even more concept cars than this year, the numbers of which were up thanks to organizers offering shipping incentives to those manufacturers who might otherwise have been hesitant to schedule a concept showing.
“When it comes down to a top 20 market or Harrisburg, helping them out with the shipping costs sometimes made the difference,” says Bromley.
Once the manufacturers applied for the incentive, the show was able to market the upcoming appearances in advertising.
One example of a concept car coming to Harrisburg was the Volvo C30, a tricked out version that appeared at SEMA. “That wouldn’t have happened without the incentive,” says Bromley.
Harrisburg continued to benefit from having a finely tuned exit survey strategy, developed and run by Adstrategies. “We take that information to make decisions for the next year’s show,” says Bromley, noting that visitors get a discount coupon from a local restaurant in return for their opinion.
“We’re also able to make real-time adjustments in what’s going on at the show,” says Bromley. “And we share those comments with all members when the show is over.”
Sacramento: Show’s aggressive strategy pays offFaced with challenging economic times, Stacey Castle, the ATAE behind the Sacramento International Auto Show, held Nov. 9-12, 2007, did what any savvy marketer would do.
“This was a year to get more aggressive and more creative,” says Castle, executive director of the Central Valley New Car Dealers Association, which owns the event.
That translated into increasing the show’s advertising campaign and adding several new distribution points for the auto show magazine, distributed two weeks prior to and during the event itself.
Castle also gave the entire marketing look of the show a new face.
“We made everything, from the Website to our outdoor boards, posters and through all the other advertising, look visually seamless. Everything synced up.”
Something clearly went right.
“This was our most successful show ever,” says Castle.
That success included contributing to what is now more than $1.2 million raised for children’s and educational causes in the last six years. “It’s a great feeling giving back to the community in a year where the economy is struggling and it’s greatly needed.”
“It was a big draw for us,” says Castle. “Everyone was thrilled to see this exciting star up close after watching its heroics on the big screen.”
Visitors also had the opportunity to see a debut addition - the SacAutoShow Art Car Exhibition - in which featured artists took existing cars or created new vehicles.
On the green side of the fence, the show featured a selection of hydrogen fuel vehicles brought by the Fuel Cell Partnership, based in West Sacramento. In addition, a record number of manufacturers brought hybrids to the show, among them Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Mercury, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Saturn and Toyota.
Toyota also brought its Highway to the Future Mobile Hybrid Experience to Sacramento, a first for the show.
San Diego: Lifestyle takes center stage as show reflects local cultureIn its second year of being a self-produced show, the San Diego International Auto Show, which took place Dec. 26-30, 2007, is in many ways becoming a reflection of the southern California culture, say its organizers.
Kevin Leap, who joined the team and was thrust into the task of taking on an independently produced show, says focusing on the love Californians have for their wheels has been a key part of the success of the San Diego show.
“There’s a lot more to it than just getting in a car and going from point to point,” says Leap. “People here are very environmentally conscious and they embrace the new technologies that will help make a difference from an environmental standpoint. This year, even more than last, we were able to showcase those technologies and it’s something we’ll continue to do as we move forward.”
But the show went even further than simply featuring green technologies.
“A couple of areas of note were the display of vehicles that fit with the lifestyle here,” says Leap. “For example, people love tailgate parties and there were a number of vehicles that spoke to that interest. And we had a focus on helping keep pets safe while in the vehicles, again a reflection on the interest and love people have for their four-legged companions.”
Still, the interest in “wellness” went beyond taking care of companion animals, says Leap, noting an auto show feature called “Body Pit Stop” that included testing for blood pressure, cholesterol and even skin cancer.
“There was also an on-site ‘Relaxation Station’ where people could get massages and learn how to stretch properly when they’re going on a long drive in their vehicles.”
From a marketing standpoint, Leap and his team have raised the bar, investing in a TV commercial that won an Emmy in its category.
“The reason is that we are an international auto show and we want to put our best foot forward in every respect,” says Leap. “That includes how we’re perceived in the media and I think the quality of the commercial does that for us.”
At the show, featuring the latest vehicles continues to be a priority for Leap and Mansfield.
“We had nine concept cars, which really made a difference in the overall quality of the show this year,” says Leap. “And we were able to add to those displays with some amazing entertainment features as well.”
Among other features at the show were an Ultimate Ridez Expo, which included enough examples of automotive customizing and aftermarket accessorizing to keep anyone busy sorting out the various options, with all the celebrity rides, mini-trucks, exotics and tricked-out cars one might imagine.
Other highlights included Toyota’s
Off Road On Site Adventure as well as Ride and Drive events sponsored by Ford and Hyundai.
San Jose: New name underscores importance of Silicon Valley marketThe key to the success of what is now called the Silicon Valley International Auto Show appears to be change.
Starting with a name change this year (the event formerly took the name of San Jose, the host city) Silicon Valley now better reflects the automotive sales center of gravity for the region, says Stephen C. Smith, president of the Silicon Valley Auto Dealers Association.
The positioning effort has resulted in a two-year net attendance increase of about 18 percent: it was up 24 percent a year ago; down 6.3 percent this year – a number “more reflective of the auto market in general,” says Smith.
And that was with a four-day show.
When it comes to hybrids, Smith says his dealers are near the top in sales of the gas-sipping vehicles, one reason the auto show continues to showcase the technology. “Our figures indicate we’re only behind Los Angeles in the volume of hybrid sales and we sell twice as many hybrids as the entire state of Florida.”
Perhaps it’s that penetration that prompted Toyota to shift gears, acknowledging that the Silicon Valley market has already got the message. The automaker brought in its Off Road On Site Adventure, displacing its Highway to the Future Mobile Hybrid Experience, which was a highlight of last year’s show.
That doesn’t mean hybrids were completely out of the picture.
“We had a media ride and drive with alternative fuel vehicles,” says Smith, noting a number of variations, including solar, biodiesel and compressed natural gas were featured. Following the media preview, members of the public could take a closer look as well.
But Smith says the focus for this past show shifted back to the traditional demographic, the reason being time and money.
“We didn’t have the extra day that we had last year and we also didn’t have the extra reach in our media budget, the result of heavy political spending this year. That adversely affected things for us.”
Still, those who did attend the Silicon Valley show got to see their share of exotics, among them the Bugatti Veyron, a $1.85 million beauty that a local dealer told Smith was scooped up as a result of the event.
Smith expects to continue tweaking the show, especially now that plans for an expanded convention center have been released. A first phase addition of 40-60,000 square feet and a 300,000-square-foot second phase expansion will alleviate much of the pressure for the sold-out show (currently limited to 280,000 square feet).
And while the next show will run over a four-day period, beginning in 2010, the Silicon Valley International Auto Show will span five days, culminating with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
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