ASNA Logo Volume 6, Issue 7 - August 2008
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the Auto Show Report
A compilation of news and developments for and about Auto Shows of North America. To find out more, visit www.asna-atae.com

Contents:

Industry News
  • Mercedes may bring A, B class vehicles to U.S.
  • Ford eyeing Europe to bolster U.S. lineup
  • Chrysler picks Gail & Rice for auto show staffing, events
  • Exhibit Enterprises now simply EEI Global
  • Chevy to get version of minicar concept
  • Chrysler to dealers: think 'clearance'
  • GM wants to sell Buick Enclave in China
  • Comings and Goings
  • ASNA Summer Meeting: A Positive Experience for Attendees
  • Thank you ASNA sponsors

    Show Profiles

  • Atlanta: Tornado couldn't stop auto show from taking off
  • Columbus: Growing market means continued show success
  • Oklahoma City: New and classic vehicles share the spotlight
  • Pittsburgh: Success, yes, but it's back to February in 2009
  • Richmond: Decision to use Motor Trend name was strategic
  • Spokane: Selling show has strong dealer, manufacturer support
  • Toledo: 'Hard-core' car city driven to succeed

    Show Directory

  • Alphabetical listing of ASNA shows and dates for 2007-2008



    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.



    Mercedes may bring A, B class vehicles to U.S.

    A shift in demand for more fuel efficient vehicles could see Mercedes-Benz begin exporting its A-class and B-class vehicles to the U.S. Previous plans to do just that were derailed because of a weak U.S. dollar. New versions of the front-wheel-drive subcompacts, due in 2011, will include a small crossover and a coupe, all designed to compete with BMW's 1-series and a future BMW crossover as well as small SUVs from Volkswagen and Audi. An electric car also is expected.




    Ford eyeing Europe to bolster U.S. lineup

    Ford's highly praised European product lineup is seen as a way to shore up its U.S. car offerings. As AutoWeek reports, Ford has detailed product plans that include five new vehicles with European roots, including four- and five-door versions of the European Ford Focus (arriving in early 2010), four- and five-door versions of the Ford Fiesta (2010) and a new Mercury small car (also in 2010). The Transit Connect van is expected to arrive stateside next year and a new European vehicle riding on the Fiesta or Focus platform is also expected. Many of the small cars will be built in North America and Ford will retool three of its truck assembly plants for the changes. Ford's plans also include strategies to boost fuel economy with a number of new technologies, including six-speed transmissions, start/stop engines and twin independent variable cam timing. They will be phased in by 2012.




    Chrysler picks Gail & Rice for auto show staffing, events

    Chrysler LLC has selected Gail & Rice for its auto show staffing and other event services for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands. "We are very excited to have Gail and Rice as our auto show staffing agency," said Bo Puffer, Chrysler global events manager. "They have been and will continue to be a key element on our auto show team." Gail & Rice provided staffing for the Dodge brand in the past, and armed with that experience, secured the remaining business for the upcoming auto show season.






    Exhibit Enterprises now simply EEI Global

    Derek Gentile
    Well known auto show exhibit producer Exhibit Enterprises, Inc. has formally changed its name to EEI Global, a move Derek Gentile, president and CEO, says reflects an evolution in the company's comprehensive approach to bringing clients' experiential marketing goals to fruition. Under the EEI Global brand are four specialized competencies: EEI Design Lab, EEI Environments, EEI Mobile, and EEI Technology. "The competencies within these four companies reflect a fundamental change in the way EEI Global works with clients to achieve their vision," said Gentile, "and they build upon our reputation for insight and quality. We are confident that the results will be even more remarkable brand experiences."




    Chevy to get version of minicar concept

    The "Trax" concept is one of two possible candidates for a production Chevy that would debut in 2011.

    One of the three GM minicar concepts first unveiled at the 2007 New York International Auto Show has been given the green light by the automaker, with Chevrolet to be the badge of choice for the 2011 introduction. The vehicle, said to be a replacement for the Aveo, will be built as an expanded vehicle, in part to meet crash test standards. GM showed three minicars in New York in April 2007, dubbed the Beat, Groove and Trax. The Beat won't be sold in the U.S. Ed Peper, Chevy vice president, wouldn't say which one of the two remaining will make it to the U.S. market, although the as-yet-unnamed vehicle will be "very similar to one of those vehicles" and arrive "in the next couple of years," Peper was quoted as saying in AutoWeek.




    Chrysler to dealers: think 'clearance'

    Chrysler LLC, which announced the end of its leasing business, is urging its dealers to market its latest sales incentives in much the same way department stores talk about price reductions - the amount discounted off retail. Parts of the new financing options include purchase loans of 72 months on vehicles. The manufacturer says customers can save up to 40 percent on its Ram trucks, 28 percent off Jeep Cherokee and 25 and 24 percent respectively on Aspen and Town & Country minivans. The company is also waiving a lease disposition fee and a lease loyalty incentive for customers that choose to purchase a new vehicle.




    GM wants to sell Buick Enclave in China

    If the Chinese government gives its okay, General Motors will begin exporting its Buick Enclave luxury crossover beginning this fall. Shanghai GM will import the vehicle to more than 400 Buick dealerships across China. Buick reportedly sold more than 300,000 vehicles to Chinese consumers in 2007.




    Comings and Goings

    Scott Webb has been promoted to assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The 12-year veteran of the show will continue to handle marketing and operations duties, while increasing his role in overall management. Webb "has contributed significantly to the improved quality and growth of the show," said Andy Fuzesi, LA Auto Show general manager.

    Tommy Kamrad has joined Gail & Rice, a leading brand communications and experiential marketing agency, as account director for its Business Communications Group. Kamrad, who will head the agency's national Ford Lincoln-Mercury account, was previously the Ford account director at Imagination USA, a design consulting firm. At Gail & Rice he will focus his efforts on Ford dealer meetings, training, entertainment and other event-related activities.


    Trevor Creed
    Trevor Creed, the designer behind some of Chrysler's most memorable concept and production cars from the late 1980s through 2008, is retiring, the company announced.
    Creed, 63, who joined Chrysler in 1985, will be replaced by one of Chrysler's fastest rising design stars, Ralph Gilles, 38, whose 300 sedan gave Chrysler a much needed boost when it was launched in 2004.
    Ralph Gilles



    ASNA Summer Meeting: A Positive Experience for Attendees

    "An annual meeting of all companies involved with the production and management of auto shows from around the country is essential to the overall growth of the industry," says Mike Gempp, director of the Philadelphia Auto Show, and a member of the 2008 Auto Shows of North America (ASNA) Focus Group Steering Committee. The Annual ASNA Summer Meeting was held July 15-16, 2008 at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.

    Mike Gempp

    "This year ASNA created an agenda that addressed the large and diverse gathering of attendees, all with varying interests," says Gempp. "We structured the topics and featured speakers to cover manufacturers, display houses, general contractors, show management and production companies alike. Not an easy task, but an extremely important one that provides balanced value to everyone who attends."

    Tim Peters, assistant director of auto shows for General Motors, says the company felt it was important to be at the summer meetings, notably to "have a conversation about issues important to GM."

    Peters adds, "Auto shows compete for dollars geared toward more traditional forms of advertising such as television and radio. With constant pressure to reduce spending, we all must be concerned with controlling costs and providing extensive ROI reports showing how auto shows offer a unique, hands-on shopping experience and access to millions of in-market consumers throughout the year."

    Marty Haynes

    Marty Haynes, manager of auto shows for American Suzuki Motor, adds that ASNA affords the opportunity to speak with other attendees one-on-one, in a more relaxed atmosphere than the auto show floor, usually the only time a face-to-face meeting occurs. "During these conversations, you can get more into the specifics of individual shows versus the more broad discussions that occur in the meetings."

    One disappointment: that more manufacturers did not attend, something Peters and Haynes hope will turn around as more see the inherent value that comes with being involved in ASNA.

    John Sackrison, another member of the ASNA Steering Committee and executive director of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association (OCADA), also felt bringing back the roundtable format proved to be a successful move for the ASNA Summer Meetings.

    "We got a lot of positive feedback on having everyone participate in this open forum," Sackrison says. "With tables consisting of shows of every size and sponsors rotating every 40 minutes, participants were able to engage in positive discussions throughout the sessions. Everyone gained valuable feedback on everything from enhancing show marketing and public relations campaigns to controlling costs by creating new streams of show revenue."

    It's also one of the initiatives that Holly Riedel says bodes well for the organization as a whole.

    Riedel, a third ASNA Steering Committee member and special projects director for the Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee (ADAMM), adds, "ASNA is one of those groups that is growing and evolving every year. Our focus now is to seek out better communication with all meeting attendees. Our ongoing goal is to create an atmosphere where all attendees can gather to share information and have an interactive, productive series of meetings."

    With dates already set for next year's ASNA Summer Meetings (July 7-8, 2009 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.), Gempp, who is carrying over his responsibilities as a Steering Committee member for the 2009 Summer ASNA meeting, says work is already underway to make the organization even more productive. "More than ever, we're focused on creating value for everyone attending and spreading this message earlier than in the past to grow participation from every level."




    Thank you ASNA sponsors

    Any event involving accommodation and meeting space undoubtedly calls for resources - internal and external. In the case of the recent Auto Shows of North America Summer Meetings, a number of sponsors were responsible for ensuring that this opportunity continues to be an important one on the annual calendar of auto show executives throughout the U.S. and Canada. Once again, thank you for your continued support. We couldn't have done it without you.

    Not already an ASNA sponsor? Contact ATAE's Jennifer Lindsey to find out how you can join the ASNA team.

    DIAMOND
    Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
    Zurich

    GOLD
    Freeman

    SILVER
    General Motors
    Recreation Vehicle Industry Association

    BRONZE
    American Fidelity
    American Honda
    Association of International Automobile Manufacturers
    Automotive Compliance Center
    Convention Connection
    Czarnowski
    ethnoMETRICS, Inc.
    Experian Automotive
    GES Exposition Services
    Gulf States Toyota, Inc.
    Hargrove, Inc.
    KPA L.L.C.
    Motor Trend Auto Shows, Inc.
    NADA Used Car Guide
    National Convention Service
    Newspaper Association of America
    Paragon Group Auto Shows
    Reynolds & Reynolds
    RVDA, the National RV Dealers Association
    Suzuki
    Time Magazine/Dealer of the Year Award/ the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
    Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

    OTHER
    Northwood University





    Atlanta: Tornado couldn't stop auto show from taking off

    While a 200-yard wide tornado just six weeks before this year's Atlanta-Journal Constitution International Auto Show threatened to derail the event due to severe damage to the Georgia World Congress Center, ATAE Shayne Wilson says the event went on as scheduled to rave reviews.

    The Caped Crusader made an appearance (with Gary Long, MAADA director of consulting services).

    Certainly, damage caused by the 135-mph twister was top of mind, but there were other challenges to this year's show.

    "We had a lot of obstacles in our way producing this show, with a slow economy, record high gas prices, and nearby freeway connector construction," says Wilson, president of the Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association, the show's producer. "Despite these odds, we were thrilled with the great public response that we received. The great attendance proves that Atlantans definitely love their new cars, trucks, SUVs and the auto show."

    The tornado, which inflicted more than $200 million in damage, at first appeared that it would shutter the convention center indefinitely. Instead, a storm of a different sort hit the Congress Center with the 26th Annual Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show.

    "I would like to thank the Georgia World Congress Center for working 24/7 to make the five halls in buildings B & C available for us," says Wilson. "I also thank the automotive manufacturers and dealers for their continued support. They brought in a great selection of new vehicles and industry displays for the show. Included in this vehicle lineup were 35 pre-production vehicles and a dozen concepts."

    Potential buyers check out the latest in vehicle offerings at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show.

    With the auto show being the most popular annual consumer event at the GWCC, the impact of the weather event could have been significant. After the tornado, both the center and the MAADA offices were flooded with telephone calls and e-mails about the show's fate for 2008. Needless to say, news that the show would go on as planned was well received by all.

    The show's official Website was also quite busy during the month of April, with over 65,000 unique visitors. Many of these visitors also joined the Official Auto Show Club, which now has a very large fan base.

    The show's annual media day, Friday, April 18, brought more than 50 Atlanta area press, who heard keynote speaker Bryan Nesbitt, vice president, Design, GM North America.

    Getting them early is clearly one of the strategies in play at State Farm Insurance, a show sponsor.

    The show's annual preview party, "A Night of Cars & Stars," benefitted Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the When Everyone Survives Foundation, an organization named after Wes Smith ("Wes") which supports research into leukemia.

    Highlights of the show included an appearance by Batman, the new film The Dark Knight giving the Caped Crusader a boost in interest, plus a Wheels of Freestyle bike stunt show that ran all nine days.

    Ford brought in two Atlanta Falcon stars during opening weekend, and State Farm Insurance had SpikeTV star Funkmaster Flex in its display on the second Saturday.

    General Motors attracted some 1,326 test drives in 30 vehicles during its successful Ride and Drive event. Held during the final four days of the show, the event was said to be one of the company's more successful of the auto show season.

    Show organizers also welcomed area high school service tech students for the third consecutive year. These "Star Techs of Tomorrow" were greeted by MAADA trainers Stephen Borders and Gary Long, and then treated to a stunt bike show, pizza and the opportunity of seeing the show before the public opening.

    Scion's popular exhibit continues to draw interest at auto shows, including Atlanta.

    Promotion of the show came in the form of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution production of a 22-page special section, plus heavy Internet presence on ajc.com and ajccars.com. The newspaper also published the show's annual guide, and included it in over 300,000 newspapers on the day before the opening.

    WSB-TV produced and aired their "Channel 2 Auto Show Preview" for the seventh straight year. The initial airing was at 12:30 p.m. on April 12, the week before opening, and the second airing took place at the same time on the show's opening day, April 19. Ratings were said to be great for both of the broadcasts.

    CW Atlanta broadcasted its weekly "Auto Scoop" show live from the show floor on two Fridays, with Wilson and colleague Matthew Beard appearing on the shows. CW Atlanta also had a great display area on site for visitors to enjoy.

    Shayne Wilson
    Other media involvement included WGCL-TV weather reporter Dagmar Midcap broadcasting live from the show on April 18, prior to the preview party and Fox 5's "Good Day Atlanta" on April 20, with Road Warrior Mark Hyman in front of the camera. Both WXIA-TV and WSB-TV sent news teams to the show for coverage.

    "We can't say enough about all of the great support that we received from area radio stations this year, with over 76 hours of live broadcasts and remotes from the show floor," says Wilson.

    Clear Channel led the charge in the radio broadcasts with Project 961, 94.9 The Bull, Viva 105.7 and E Patron 105.3 taking part. Chris Williams of Project 961 was on site for five straight weekdays with his afternoon drive show. Other stations taking part were KICKS 101.5, V103, Hot 107.9, WGKA 920 AM, 680 The Fan, 790 The Zone, and 97.1 The River.

    Profile: Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show

    Dates:
    April 19-27, 2008

    Next show:
    March 14-22, 2009

    Place:
    Georgia World Congress Center

    Exhibit Space:
    650,000 square feet

    Tickets:
    Adults $10, Children (6-12) $5 (under 6 free)

    Show Hours:
    Mon.-Thurs. noon-9 pm; Fri. noon-10 pm; Sat. 10 am-10 pm; Sun. 10 am-8 pm

    Produced by:
    Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Contact:
    Shayne Wilson, ATAE
    President, Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association
    swilson@maada.com, 770.916.1741

    Show Website:
    www.ajcautoshow.com

    Discount Coupons:
    Weekday coupons available at participating dealerships and in select newspaper ads.






    Columbus: Growing market means continued show success

    Ohio's capital city is more than a government town, although certainly those companies wanting to be in close proximity to the legislative process have been known to call Columbus home.

    Add big insurance, health care, Ohio State University and Honda's Marysville plant (30 minutes away) and you begin to get the picture: Columbus is one hopping town.

    Those dynamics bode well for the Columbus Auto Show and Show Producer Dan Zinni, an 11-year veteran of the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, which not only runs the Columbus show (held this year March 8-16, 2008) but Toledo and, starting next year, the Dayton Auto Show as well.

    "We're probably the only city in Ohio that's growing," says Zinni. "The suburbs have expanded and opportunities for dealers and manufacturers here are countless. It's kept our dealers going and sales are very good in Columbus, what you'd expect when you have a growing population."

    With the population growth has come a growing show as well, most notably about four years ago when the Columbus Convention Center leapt from 180,000 square feet to its current 300,000 square feet of space.

    "We grew right with that expansion," notes Zinni. "At this point, we sell it all."

    The auto show, one of the two biggest events in the convention center (Arnold Schwarzenegger's Arnold Classic is the other), draws from a market of some 1.6 million.

    But how about challenges?

    This year, it was in the form of snow, something that's rare in Ohio in March, but still possible: 21 inches of "possible" it turns out for 2008, accounting for a 17 percent dip in attendance.

    With opening weekend accounting for about 25 percent of the gate, the show recovered somewhat, but the overall impact was still felt.

    And no, Zinni doesn't buy Showstopper's insurance.

    "History is on our side," he says. "It was the first snow we've had that late in 22 years."

    This season's Columbus International Auto Show Charity Preview raised thousands for the March of Dimes as ticket holders were entertained before, during and after their early glimpse at the very latest vehicles available.


    What is much more predictable is the enthusiasm auto show attendees have for anything related to Ohio State football.

    "We're an Ohio State Buckeye town," notes Zinni. "This year the Central Ohio Chevrolet Dealers brought in Head Coach Jim Tressel to sign autographs, who has been here several times before. And every time, people are lined up to get this man's autograph."

    From an entertainment perspective, musician John Petz made an appearance at the show.

    Another highlight of the show was a vehicle raffle in support of March of Dimes, raising $50,000 for the charity.

    The show's Charity Preview also aligned this year with March of Dimes; next year, as in the past, a dealer committee will receive presentations from area charities, picking one to support.

    Next year, with Zinni and his team mixing things up with a four-day show (a departure from the nine day customary schedule), expectations are for continued success.

    "Columbus is where things are happening."

    Profile: Columbus International Auto Show

    Dates:
    Mar. 8-16, 2008

    Next Show:
    Mar. 8-16, 2008

    Place:
    Columbus Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    300,000 square feet

    Tickets:
    Adults $8, Children (12 and under) free when accompanied by paid adult

    Show Hours:
    First Friday, 7 pm-10 pm; Saturdays, 10 am-10 pm; First Sunday, 11 am-7 pm; Mon.-Thurs., 3 pm-9 pm; Second Friday, 11 am-10 pm; Final Sunday, 11 am-5 pm.

    Produced by:
    Ohio Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Contact:
    Dan Zinni
    dzinni@oada.com, 614.923.2234

    Show Website:
    www.columbusautoshow.com






    Oklahoma City: New and classic vehicles share the spotlight

    Everything old is new again.

    So it seems with the Oklahoma City International Auto Show, the first of two events managed by ATAE Peter Hodges; the second being the Oklahoma State Fair Auto Show held in September.

    While new cars and trucks were still front and center for the March 6-9, 2008 event, Hodges discovered just how popular vintage vehicles can be after hosting the Route 66 Auto Show, a collection of classic and antique muscle cars that complemented the traditional displays.

    "It's something we now look forward to having on an ongoing basis," says Hodges of the 30,000-square-foot exhibit area. "These are vehicles you would have seen years ago on Route 66, which goes right by Oklahoma City and the state fairgrounds, making it more than appropriate."

    Hodges also welcomed a return of the Toyota Off Road On Site Adventure as well as the Sprint Racing Experience, a popular display that features NASCAR simulators.

    "It was a big hit," says Hodges of the Sprint exhibit, noting that both it and the Toyota features were next to one another.

    Other outdoor events included a display by Gore Tex and a "coupon grab" feature sponsored by Long John Silver's.

    People in the Oklahoma City area find time to catch up while checking out the latest vehicles on display at the fairgrounds.

    Hodges says weather continued to cooperate as it has in other years.

    "For some reason, that weekend is the beginning of mild weather," he says. "We've gotten past the threat of snow or ice and we're between where it gets to be the first really nice weather and people are going to go to the lake. That helps bring people to the auto show."

    This year's event, says Hodges, was just about perfect from a display standpoint as well.

    "We had everything: the 2008 cars and trucks as well as 2009 vehicles and concepts. Plus there was the first time exotic card display. We touched on just about everything automotive."

    Other show highlights included a Fast Fun Zone with skateboarding shows and a Hot Wheels giveaway (the first 250 kids were eligible to receive a toy car).

    On a safety theme, sponsor Safe Kids Oklahoma fitted 300 children age 6 to 12 years old with a free Bell bike helmet.

    The Boy Scouts also got in the picture, holding its Pinewood Derby competition, another repeat attraction for Oklahoma City.

    Just about every vehicle available is available for inspection at the Oklahoma City International Auto Show.

    With attendance up about 7 percent from last year, Hodges says the gate is on the rebound from those of recent years, which were off slightly. "We're coming back again," he adds.

    Hodges says appearances by celebrities, particularly those connected with the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team, work for the event. Hence, showings by running back Alan Patrick and former tight end Joe Jon Finley.

    Which is not to say Hodges doesn't see the vehicles being the primary draw.

    "Our surveys continue to show that people come for the new cars," he says. "But we believe in creating a fun experience for the family; while they're here shopping for a vehicle, it's important that it be the most positive, fun experience we can deliver."

    That means appealing to the repeat visitors, those who often make their way to new car dealers after spending a few hours at the auto show.

    Hodges says the dealer organization works hard to add value to the overall consumer experience, which includes the organization's own car buying Web site - www.driveokc.com.

    Peter Hodges
    "It's something that we market throughout the year," says Hodges. "We have all the dealers represented there and it's a great cross promotional effort that increases the value and impressions of the auto show."

    Other promotional efforts associated with the auto show include the distribution of discount coupons, notably through Allstate offices, Sprint phone dealers and the regional Love's Convenience Store chain.

    And Hodges also continues to build an impressive database of opt-in e-mails as well, something he uses to encourage show goers to keep returning, year after year.

    "And they do."

    Profile: Oklahoma City International Auto Show

    Dates:
    March 6-9, 2008

    Next show:
    March 5-8, 2009

    Place:
    Oklahoma City Fairgrounds

    Exhibit Space:
    157,000 square feet

    Tickets:
    Adults, $7; Children (7-12), $3, under 6 free

    Show Hours:
    Thurs.-Fri.: 11 am-9 pm; Sat.: 10 am-9 pm; Sun.: 10 am-6 pm

    Produced by:
    Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Contact:
    Peter Hodges
    President, Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association
    madapeter@coxinet.com
    405.607.0400

    Show Website:
    www.okcautoshow.org






    Pittsburgh: Success, yes, but it's back to February in 2009

    When the Pittsburgh Auto Show was forced to move its dates forward, the result of a structural mishap last year at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, ATAE Denise Brennan thought she had a permanent shift in calendar on her hands.

    Denise Brennan

    "We really liked April," says Brennan, of the most recent show, held April 17-21, 2008. "It worked for us and this past year, it was a great show."

    But then the dealership group that owns the show - the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association - began hearing from its members, many of whom remembered the bump in sales that resulted from its February dates.

    "The reality is that the majority of our members wanted to go back to February," says Brennan. "It's a tradition in our market and it's something that most continue to value."

    The transition will mean a four-day show in 2009, followed by a nine-day event in 2010. But dates aren't the only things new with the Pittsburgh Auto Show.

    Media partners played such as this local radio station played a significant role in promoting the Pittsburgh Auto Show this past season.

    Brennan has brought public relations and advertising services in-house, in doing so leveraging relationships with local media.

    Her approach: "What can you bring to the show?"

    "We asked them to think outside the box, be creative," says Brennan, who took the game plan proposed and ran with it.

    The result: the local Fox Sports Network affiliate bringing TVs and recliners for one corner of the convention center; sports fans (the Penguins were in the playoffs) could take a comfortable break from checking out all the industry had in the latest vehicles.

    Sports inflatables set up at the Pittsburgh Auto Show brought out kids (of all ages) to give it their best shot.

    Comcast, another show sponsor, set up a "Kids Corner" and demonstrations for car seat use and the Amber Alert program.

    On an attendance basis, this year's show was up slightly over the previous year. And even though the show has traditionally been nine days (five days during the last two years), Brennan says things even out when you do the comparison.

    "You do try to cram a lot more in for the time you have, but expenses are less as well."

    Other features included Harley-Davidson's traveling museum and a demonstration by the local SWAT team, which brought in a robotic bomb squad.

    "Mercury Girl" (and star of TV's Wipe Out) Jill Wagner was on hand to sign autographs at this year's Pittsburgh Auto Show.

    Add in guide dogs, magicians and blow-up animals, plus a ball toss inflatable (sponsored by ESPN Radio) and you get a glimpse of all that took place with this year's Pittsburgh show.

    Show organizers also brought in entertainment in the form of a band.

    Other highlights of the show included a Charity Gala, which with the new dates was held mid-week. "We'll go back to the Preview in 2010," says Brennan, pointing out that the mission of helping Family House, which supports comfortable, affordable surroundings for families of patients undergoing specialized hospital treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, and other hospitals in the Pittsburgh area continues.

    The Harley-Davidson Traveling Museum was a very popular highlight of this year's Pittsburgh Auto Show.

    The Gala, which has evolved over the past few years, is now far less formal, this year's theme being a "Road Trip Back to the 60s."

    "We had it on the upper level of the convention center, taking advantage of a skywalk that looks down on the show floor," says Brennan. "It was a unique atmosphere."

    Brennan is already promoting next year's February show, to be held Feb. 12-15, 2009.

    "We're excited given that it's going to be over Valentine's Day, so we decided to spin it in that direction, try to have some fun and include it in our Gala theme."

    Profile: Pittsburgh International Auto Show

    Most recent show:
    April 17-21, 2008

    Next show:
    Feb. 12-15, 2009

    Place:
    David L. Lawrence Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    340,000 square feet

    Tickets:
    Adults, $9; Seniors (60 plus), $6; Children (12 and under), free

    Show Hours:
    Thursday, 5 pm-10 pm; Friday-Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm (Kids Day); Monday, 10 am-6 pm (Senior Citizen Day).

    Produced by:
    Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Contact:
    Denise Brennan
    Executive Vice President, CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association
    dbrennan@pittsburghauto.org
    412.963.8909

    Website:
    www.pittautoshow.com






    Richmond: Decision to use Motor Trend name was strategic

    Some 15 years ago, when the dealership group in Richmond, Va., decided to dramatically expand the scope and reach of the city's auto show (a multi-franchise member had hosted a version for several years previously), organizers knew they would need to underscore the difference to their market.

    "We needed to make the point that the show wasn't about any one dealer or franchise," says Michael Allen, director of public affairs for the Greater Richmond New Car Dealers Association, in explaining how the name "Motor Trend" became part of the auto show's official name. "When we made the transition, there was still that perception, even though it wasn't a selling show."

    Don Hall

    This year's event, held March 7-9, 2008, was up some 48 percent over last year, a feat Allen says was the result of ATAE Don Hall, who is CEO of both the Virginia Auto Dealers Association and the Richmond dealer group, promoting the distribution of more complimentary tickets as a way of increasing overall attendance.

    Bingo. "We tried it and not only did comp tickets increase but paid sales went up as well," says Allen. "By distributing comp tickets through charitable organizations such as the Boy Scouts, we generated significant buzz. And word of mouth goes a long way."

    Another strategic initiative was increasing the marketing budget by 10 percent, plus adding another media partner, Comcast Spotlight.

    Michael Allen
    "The newspaper was the big sponsor before that," says Allen. "Even though they were a sole sponsor previously, they were fine with the addition."

    The third leg on the strategic stool to increase the show's success was to bring in more concept vehicles, even at the expense of setting aside non-automotive related features.

    "We had a number of SEMA-type vehicles we were able to show," notes Allen, who adds that Motor Trend's "Green Mile" feature with its collection of gas-sippng vehicles.

    "It was the only feature that we really brought in from Motor Trend," says Allen, although he did take advantage of a free subscription promotion, with some 4,800 show goers signing up.

    Shopping for a new car at the Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show often means getting the entire family involved.

    Another exception to the "no-feature" rule was Sunday and it's focus on families.

    "Any other features are just not as big of a draw," says Allen. "We've tried everything: professional wrestlers and TV personalities for auto programs. Even bringing in NASCAR drivers, and we're a big NASCAR market, had no impact on attendance."

    What Allen has come to trust is survey results, which show 40 to 50 percent of show goers want to see concepts.

    "We'll be doing more and more of that next year," he notes, adding that additional features related to fuel economy are likely to continue to be of interest.

    It's about getting "up close and personal" when it comes to checking out the new vehicle offerings at the auto show.

    Profile: Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show

    Dates:
    March 7-9, 2008

    Next year:
    March 13-15, 2009

    Place:
    Greater Richmond Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    180,000 square feet

    Tickets:
    Adults, $8; Seniors (62 plus), $5; Children (7-12), $3, under 6 free (under 12 free on Kids Day, Mar. 12)

    Show Hours:
    Friday-Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm

    Produced by:
    Motor Trend Auto Shows

    Show Contact:
    Don Hall, ATAE, (CEO)
    dhall@vada.com
    804.359.3578

    Show Web site:
    www.virginiaautoshow.com






    Spokane: Selling show has strong dealer, manufacturer support

    Talk to enough auto show producers throughout North America and one thing keeps coming up again and again: markets are different.

    Manufacturers (like GM with its Buick Enclave pictured here) get an opportunity of showcasing their wares at the Spokane International Auto Show.

    So it is with Spokane, with its success in building a very successful selling show, the emphasis being on doing everything possible to help consumers get in the vehicle of their dreams.

    "It's always been that way," notes Kip Nedved, whose Nedved Advertising has been producing the Spokane International Auto Show for the last 15 years. "Every dealership participates and the factory participation in the show has grown considerably over the years."

    Indeed, some 75 percent of manufacturers have a direct involvement in the event, which was held Feb. 15-18, 2008.

    A show highlight is the VIP "by invitation only" preview celebration that has become a major social event for the city. And dealers, who hand pick those to be invited, have reason to celebrate.

    "The show marks the end of a long winter season for dealers," says Nedved, who started his company in 1973 and took over when the former producer of the event died suddenly. "It's the switch that turns on the interest of consumers. We see a big surge in traffic into dealerships virtually overnight."

    While the event is one where dealers roll up their sleeves to move product, the approach is key to the success of the auto show.

    "It's a big part of what makes it work," says Nedved. "It's more subtle than it might seem; consumers are simply given an opportunity to buy the vehicle that's of interest to them. It doesn't happen right at the show, but there's a very seamless hand-off from the show to the dealership showroom."

    One of Ford's newest vehicles is the Flex,
    a standout at the Spokane International Auto Show.

    Nedved's role in producing the show includes, not unexpectedly, coordinating the marketing of the event, with the opportunity to become the show's major sponsor going up for bid every year.

    "We have a primary relationship with one of the local TV network affiliates every year," says Nedved. "They partner with us on the VIP party and they offer a tremendous number of spots."

    There's a similar relationship carved out with the newspaper. And while the print media is not the "major" sponsor, that is a possible change being discussed.

    "Portland has a very tight relationship with the local newspaper," says Nedved. "It's something we're talking about here."

    Nedved manages a "pretty strong" budget for the entire auto show, which helped deliver for the dealership group.

    "It was a really good show," says Nedved. "Everything just clicked."

    And while attendance was off slightly, it was still the second or third best year ever.

    Looking ahead, Nedved says future changes are likely to be more subtle than dramatic.

    "It's probably more a question of tweaking things," says Nedved, who points out that a layout with GM at one end of the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds and Toyota at the other works well. "We have two strong poles at both ends of the facility."

    Profile: Spokane International Auto Show

    Date:
    Feb. 15-17, 2008

    Next Show:
    Feb. 13-15, 2009

    Place:
    Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

    Exhibit Space:
    110,000 square feet

    Tickets:
    Adults (13 and over), $6; Seniors (62 and over), $5; Children (12 and under, Free

    Show Hours:
    Friday, 11 am-9 pm; Saturday, 9 am-9 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm.

    Produced by:
    Nedved Advertising (for the Spokane New Car Dealers Association)

    Show Contact:
    Kip Nedved
    Nedved Advertising
    509.467.5138, knedved@nedvedadvertising.com

    Show Web site:
    www.spokaneautoshow.com






    Toledo: 'Hard-core' car city driven to succeed

    The cities may be just two and one half hours away by car, but Toledo and Columbus - Ohio's capital city - are worlds apart, according to ATAE Dan Zinni, who produces both shows.

    A Beatles tribute band provided entertainment at the very popular preview event at the Greater Toledo Auto Show.

    "Toledo is where the hard-core car guys live," says Zinni, who took over responsibility for the Greater Toledo Auto Show three years ago, on the retirement of Clay Hepler. "It's very, very different from Columbus, which is mostly white collar."

    It's also a dramatically smaller show, squeezed into the 60,000 square feet of the Seagate Center, this year from Jan. 24-27, 2008.

    "It's almost claustrophobic," says Zinni, accustomed to walking vast distances in Columbus. "In Toledo, it's just a few steps to see most things."

    Zinni credits manufacturers for their skill in designing and assembling high quality displays that work in a small venue like Toledo. "They, on the other hand, are very pleased with the attendance they get."

    And that's for a show that is just an hour south of Detroit, at a time when both shows have calendar overlap (the North American International Auto Show finished on the same day as Toledo).

    Contestants took their "best guess" at the original identity of this crushed car. Drum roll . . . . . .
    it was a .

    Again, Zinni comes back to the Toledo show's demographic.

    "Our visitors want to touch and feel the product," he says, in essence explaining how Toledo is able to attract a different clientele than its Michigan neighbor. "Detroit will get everything. But this is a buyer's show, one where you're able to get in and out of all the cars you're going to see at dealerships in the weeks and months ahead. It's an intimate feel."

    A show highlight included a contest where show goers were asked to identify a "junked" car, one that had been crushed and brought into the Seagate Center expressly for the purposes of the event.

    "They went to a computer terminal and registered, giving us their guess for what the vehicle was," explains Zinni. "It was a great contest, the winner getting a big screen TV."

    NASCAR driver Regan Smith (pictured signing autographs at the Greater Toledo Auto Show) was joined by colleague Todd Bodine.

    Show organizers also gave away a two-year lease on a Jeep vehicle, a process that included handing out keys to finalists who were selected every day of the show.

    When the time came for contestants to try their key in the vehicle, it was the first contestant who won.

    Show goers also enjoyed seeing former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine, who competed in the Craftsman truck series.

    Another highlight of the Greater Toledo Auto Show is the preview party, which raises $140,000 for local charities. Zinni credits dealers and sponsors for making the $2,500 a table event such a success.

    "It's just fantastic."

    Profile: Greater Toledo Auto Show

    Dates:
    Jan. 24-27, 2008

    Next show:
    Jan. 22-25, 2009

    Place:
    SeaGate Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    75,000 square feet

    Tickets:
    Adults $5, Children (12 and under) free when accompanied by paid adult

    Show Hours:
    Thurs., 3 pm-8 pm; Fri., 11 am-9 pm; Sat., 10 am-9 pm; Sun., 10 am-5 pm.

    Produced by:
    Ohio Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Contact:
    Dan Zinni
    Auto Show Director
    dzinni@oada.com, 614.923.2234

    Show Website:
    www.toledoautoshow.org






    Auto Shows of North America Show Directory

    Albany
    Albany Auto Show
    4/3/2009 - 4/5/2009

    Albany
    Empire State Plaza Auto Show
    11/7/2008 - 11/9/2008

    Albuquerque
    New Mexico International Auto Show
    4/17/2009 - 4/19/2009

    Anaheim
    Orange County Auto Show
    10/2/2008 - 10/5/2008

    Atlanta
    Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show
    3/14/2009 - 3/22/2009

    Austin
    Austin American Statesman Auto Show
    4/17/2009 - 4/19/2009

    Baltimore
    Baltimore International Auto Show
    2/5/2009 - 2/8/2009

    Bethlehem, PA
    Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show
    3/26/2009 - 3/29/2009

    Birmingham
    Alabama International Auto Show
    11/13/2008 - 11/16/2008

    Boston
    New England International Auto Show
    12/3/2008 - 12/7/2008

    Buffalo
    Buffalo Auto Show
    2/4/2009 - 2/8/2009

    Calgary
    Calgary International Auto & Truck Show
    3/11/2009 - 3/15/2009

    Charleston
    West Virginia International Auto Show
    1/16/2009 - 1/18/2009

    Charlotte
    Charlotte International Auto Show
    11/20/2008 - 11/23/2008

    Chicago
    Chicago Auto Show
    2/13/2009 - 2/22/2009

    Cincinnati
    Cincinnati Auto Expo
    2/19/2009 - 2/22/2009

    Cleveland
    Cleveland Auto Show
    2/21/2009 - 3/1/2009

    Columbus
    Columbus International Auto Show
    3/19/2009 - 3/22/2009

    Dallas
    Dallas Auto Show
    2/18/2009 - 2/22/2009

    Davenport
    Iowa/Illinois Regional Auto Show
    2/6/2009 - 2/8/2009

    Dayton
    Dayton Auto Show
    3/26/2009 - 3/29/2009

    Denver
    Denver Auto Show
    4/1/2009 - 4/5/2009

    Detroit
    North American International Auto Show
    1/17/2009 - 1/25/2009

    Edmonton
    Edmonton Motor Show
    3/5/2009 - 3/8/2009

    Fort Worth
    Greater Tarrant County Auto Show
    1/29/2009 - 2/1/2009

    Fresno
    Central California International Auto Show
    10/31/2008 - 11/2/2009

    Greenville
    South Carolina International Auto Show
    1/16/2009 - 1/19/2009

    Harrisburg, PA
    Pennsylvania Auto and Boat Show
    1/22/2009 - 1/26/2009

    Hartford
    Connecticut International Auto Show
    11/21/2008 - 11/23/2008

    Honolulu
    First Hawaiian International Auto Show
    3/26/2009 - 3/29/2009

    Houston
    Houston Auto Show
    1/24/2009 - 2/1/2009

    Indianapolis
    Indianapolis Auto Show
    12/26/2008 - 1/1/2009

    Jackson, MS
    Mississippi International Auto Show
    1/23/2009 - 1/25/2009

    Kansas City
    Greater Kansas City International Auto Show
    3/11/2009 - 3/15/2009

    Las Vegas
    Las Vegas International Auto Show
    11/28/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Los Angeles
    Los Angeles Auto Show
    11/19/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Louisville
    Carl Casper Custom and Louisville New Car Auto Show
    2/20/2009 - 2/22/2009

    Miami
    South Florida International Auto Show
    11/7/2008 - 11/16/2008

    Midland, Mich.
    Northwood University International Auto Show
    10/10/2008 - 10/12/2008

    Milwaukee
    Greater Milwaukee Auto Show
    2/21/2009 - 3/1/2009

    Minneapolis/St. Paul
    Greater St. Paul & Minneapolis International Auto Show
    3/21/2009 - 3/29/2009

    Montreal
    Montreal International Auto Show
    1/16/2009 - 1/25/2009

    New Orleans
    New Orleans International Auto Show
    3/20/2009 - 3/22/2009

    New York
    New York International Auto Show
    4/10/2009 - 4/19/2009

    Oklahoma City
    Oklahoma City International Auto Show
    3/5/2009 - 3/8/2009

    Omaha
    Midlands International Auto Show
    1/22/2009 - 1/25/2009

    Orlando
    Central Florida International Auto Show
    11/26/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Philadelphia
    Philadelphia International Auto Show
    1/31/2009 - 2/8/2009

    Phoenix
    Arizona International Auto Show
    11/27/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Pittsburgh
    Pittsburgh International Auto Show
    4/17/2008 - 4/21/2008

    Portland
    Portland International Auto Show
    2/5/2009 - 2/8/2009

    Providence
    Northeast International Auto Show
    1/8/2009 - 1/11/2009

    Richmond
    Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show
    3/13/2009 - 3/15/2009

    Rochester
    Rochester International Auto Show
    2/25/2009 - 3/1/2009

    Sacramento
    Sacramento International Auto Show
    11/6/2008 - 11/9/2008

    Saint Louis
    Saint Louis International Auto Show
    1/28/2009 - 2/1/2009

    Salt Lake City
    Utah International Auto Expo
    1/16/2009 - 1/19/2009

    San Antonio
    San Antonio Auto & Truck Show
    10/2/2008 - 10/5/2008

    San Diego
    San Diego International Auto Show
    12/31/2008 - 1/4/2009

    San Jose
    Silicon Valley International Auto Show
    1/8/2009 - 1/11/2009

    Seattle
    Seattle International Auto Show
    11/5/2008 - 11/9/2008

    Spokane
    Spokane International Auto Show
    2/13/2009 - 2/15/2009

    Tampa
    Tampa Bay International Auto Show
    11/6/2008 - 11/9/2008

    Toledo
    Greater Toledo Auto Show
    1/22/2009 - 1/25/2009

    Toronto
    Canadian International Auto Show
    2/13/2009 - 2/22/2009

    Vancouver
    Vancouver International Auto Show
    3/28/2009 - 4/5/2009

    Washington
    Washington Auto Show
    2/4/2009 - 2/8/2009





    Credits/Contacts:

    Automotive Trade Association Executives
    8400 Westpark Drive
    McLean, VA 22102
    703.821.7072
    703.556.8581 - fax
    www.info@atae.info

    Kevin Mazzucola, ATAE President
    mazz@adagp.com

    Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
    jlindsey@nada.org

    ASNA Focus Group Steering Committee
    Mike Gempp, Philadelphia International Auto Show
    Holly Riedel, Greater Milwaukee Auto Show
    John Sackrison, Orange County Auto Show
    Shayne Wilson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show

    The Auto Show Report
    Joe Rohatynski, senior editor

    joe@joepr.com

    J.D. Booth, editor
    jd@jdbooth.com




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