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.
VW Jetta TDI gets Green Car honorsVolkswagen's Jetta, equipped with the automaker's TDI diesel engine, is the "Green Car of the Year," beating out the BMW 335d (another diesel) as well as a hybrid version of the Ford Fusion, the Saturn Vue two-mode hybrid and the Smart Fortwo subcompact. The awards, developed by the Green Car Journal, were revealed at the LA Auto Show last week. Editor and Publisher Ron Cogan said the future of the auto industry depends on having the high-mileage vehicles that consumers demand. "It's no longer an option for carmakers to build these cars," he said. "It's an imperative." The new Jetta TDI hits 41 miles per gallon on the highway and 30 mpg in the city, according to EPA testing.
Detroit dealers lobby NissanNissan Motor Co., which at one point cited cost cutting as reason for pulling the plug on its participation at auto shows in Chicago and Detroit (later coming to an agreement with its Chicagoland dealers to stay put), is now being urged to reconsider its position at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The request is coming from the 10 Nissan and Infiniti dealers in the Motor City selling region who have expressed willingness to share some of the cost burden.
"Once you vacate it, you run a high risk that it will be gobbled up fast," said Joe Serra, NAIAS senior co-chair (another area Nissan dealer), quoted in The Detroit News.
Rod Alberts, executive director of Detroit's NAIAS, while acknowledging the extremely difficult economic times, said maintaining perspective is also important.
"Every automaker is being pressured to cut costs," he said. “It’s a difficult time, but this situation won’t last… and we’ll get through it.”
“Maintaining a presence at auto shows – the industry’s most focused marketing environment – is going to be critical to the recovery we all know will eventually occur,” added Alberts.
“We need to be extremely responsive to automaker concerns, providing innovative opportunities to help make that happen."
Alberts said Nissan’s decision to stay in the Chicago Auto Show is a positive move that, ultimately, will be good for shows around the country.
NADA creates 'Best Time to Buy' ad seriesThe National Automobile Dealers Association has created a series of advertisements designed to encourage potential buyers to get off the fence. The campaign, "The Best Time to Buy," includes print and broadcast spots (radio and television) that can be downloaded for use. According to the NADA, numerous media outlets have already agreed to publish or air the ads free of charge as a means of helping the automotive industry get out of the current slump. The TV and radio public service announcements were distributed to all of the 10,000 radio and 4,500 television stations in the country; to date, the TV spots are running in 60 markets (including across several Time Warner, Comcast and Cox cable networks), and the radio ads in 60 markets. Print ads have been sent to every newspaper in the country and are running in 45 markets.
Leading agency gets name change
Ford reduces stake in Mazda to below controlling interestEven as it reduces its once-controlling stake in Mazda as a means of generating much-needed cash, Ford Motor Company says the partnership that has involved sharing platforms and powertrains will continue. Indeed, Ford, with 13 percent ownership in Mazda, remains its largest shareholder. The sale of shares in Mazda generated $450 million for Ford.
New auto show book hits the stands
"The allure of beautiful people has played an enchanting role at auto shows in the USA for more than 100 years," says Krevsky. "Automakers and marketers have painted posters, erected statues, and chrome figureheads long before they commissioned human beings to dazzle the audience. Perched high on the altars to autos, they add drama, product knowledge and a little swing to the shows."
Krevsky, who plans public book signings at auto shows this season, can be reached at 248.644.5566.
Sirens of Chrome, which retails for $24.95, is is available through the publisher, Momentum Books or on Amazon.com and at select Borders and Barnes and Nobles bookstores.
Get in and drive; auto show Ride & Drives put seats in seats, and consumers in dealerships
Millions of potential new vehicle buyers will visit auto shows this season as manufacturers partner with dealer associations to put their best on display. And, once again, motorists will be enticed to do more than look - as shows from coast-to-coast host ever-popular Ride & Drive programs.
At the Sacramento International Auto Show, the Chevy Driving Experience, one of four Ride & Drives (Hyundai, Toyota and the California Green Initiative were the others), was successful at introducing consumers to some 14 different models, including the new Corvette and Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell hydrogen-powered concept vehicle.
"We had a steady flow of consumers - more than 900 registered - who drove Chevy products," says Geff Phillips, vice president, Gail & Rice, which produced the Chevy Driving Experience in association with GM R*Works and General Motors. Phillips, whose product specialists accompanied drivers to demonstrate vehicle features and answer questions, says Ride & Drive enthusiasts get fired up about the experience.
Manufacturers acknowledge that while consumers use the Ride & Drive experience to help decide which vehicle is right for them, it also helps spike traffic at local dealerships.
"Auto shows are a huge resource for consumers in the buying process," says Hyundai's Monique Morin Kumpis. "The Ride & Drive gives enthusiasts the chance to truly experience our vehicles in a dynamic way and extend the Hyundai brand beyond the auto show floor."
In the case of Mitsubishi, its media Ride & Drives began at last April's 2008 New York International Auto Show, providing many journalists the opportunity to get behind the wheel (albeit, a right-side wheel) of an i MiEV prototype.
Mitsubishi Product PR Manager Moe Durand says that opportunity was timely in that it helped lead to greater awareness of the product across North America.
"Because the i MiEV's New York appearance coincided with the display of the Nissan EV-01 Concept as well as the pure electric
version of the Subaru R1, our media Ride & Drive helped to create overall awareness of the unique vehicle, which ultimately lead
to the fleet testing program with Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas & Electric," says Durand. "Our activities in
LA helped further evolve the i MiEV story as vehicles wearing SCE and PG&E graphics commemorated the prototype deliveries to these
utility agencies. The fleet testing program will help evaluate the i MiEV in U.S. driving conditions, explore the vehicle's relationship
with a major U.S. utility, and, hopefully, help steer a determination about i Miev's viabilty for U.S. consumers."
Tough times call for creative measuresIn an effort to work with their auto manufacturer partners, auto shows across the country are putting their best foot forward to help reduce costs for exhibiting OEMs. The Chicago Auto Show recently announced a new program which offers free staging, lighting and audio visual services for manufacturer press conferences in the Grand Concourse of McCormick Place. Detroit's North American International Auto Show said it will continue to provide free staging along with lighting and video needs for the OEMs in its Michigan Hall, site of opening ceremonies and the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.
Watch for other efforts dealer associations are taking to help ease the pain, while still producing first class auto shows, in the next issue of
ASNA's The Auto Show Report.
NAIAS unveils partial intro list
“Showcasing product on a global stage during Press Preview, and then to the Motor City during the public show, is more than a marketing strategy. It’s about the passion and the pride that the product ignites in people around the world, while also recognizing the reality of current budget constraints,” said NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts.
NAIAS provided the following product intro preview:
Comings and GoingsSteve Stanford, who for the last decade has been involved with auto show activities at General Motors, has transferred to the company's Trademark and Licensing Department. A GM veteran since 1980, Stanford most recently was shows & exhibit manager for Cadillac/Saab/Saturn. Stanford is well known and respected on the auto show scene, and has spent his entire career in various promotion, marketing and sales positions with Cadillac. His auto show duties at GM will be shared by colleagues Scott Settlemire, shows & exhibit manager, Chevrolet/Hummer; and Angela Kalatzis, shows & exhibit manager, Buick/Pontiac/GMC.
Albany: 'Overwhelming' crowds at Empire State Plaza showKim Perrella, show manager of the two separate auto shows in Albany, New York's capital city, admits she was somewhat apprehensive in the weeks prior to the Empire State Plaza Auto Show, held Nov. 7-9, 2008.
"We just didn't know what was going to happen," says Perrella, one of a handful of staff members at the Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers (headed by ATAE Deborah Dorman). "Certainly we were hoping for the traffic, but we were overwhelmed by the number of actual buyers."
Still, for a number of reasons, she's obviously delighted with what transpired at the most recent show.
Besides the free attendance (the show is held on state property), the show got a welcome boost by being in close proximity to the Times Union Ski and Snowboard Expo.
"We helped each other," says Perrella, referring specifically to a special lift ticket giveaway that was particularly helpful from a cross-attendance perspective. "Having thousands of people in line before we even opened the doors was something to see."
Another positive factor was the weather - cool and rainy. "That's always something that helps to bring people inside."
"We also had a mystery shopper contest for staff that were working the show," she adds. Car buyers hired by a contractor were sent out to judge exhibit personnel on a variety of criteria, with cash awards to the day's winners.
Perrella says the dealer organization is following up with the momentum generated by the auto show with a series of advertisements, developed by the National Automobile Dealers Association and intended to spur local auto sales.
Sacramento: Ride and Drives add to the excitementStacey Castle had her own "word of the day" when it came to the Sacramento International Auto Show that she and the staff at the Central Valley New Car Dealers Association produces.
Castle, who runs Castle Communications, Inc., and is the ATAE for the Sacramento area, shares production duties with Sheri Sundahl.
"We sell the space, lay out the floor, write and design the auto show program, execute the media buy and all the creative for the ad production, plus we handle the public relations," notes Castle.
And the flexibility part?
"As you can imagine, this year things were changing just as fast as we could touch them so we decided to make 'flexible' our key word. Trust me, Gumby didn't have anything on us in the flexibility department, but I honestly have to say - this auto show has never looked better."
Returning to the Sacramento show were Toyota, with its rebranded "Toyota Behind the Wheel Adventure," as well as Hyundai, with its own Ride and Drive attraction.
Castle said crowds were enthusiastic about the opportunities offered by the manufacturers.
"It takes an auto show experience to a new level when the consumer can get behind the wheel and drive some of the great automotive products out there."
One of Castle's biggest changes for this year was to adjust the media buy in the face of an election advertising season.
"With the election the Tuesday before our show opened, we went out early with a huge outdoor campaign and bombarded with television and radio during election returns and for the rest of the week," she adds. "Amazingly enough I have never had so many people say they saw and heard the ads, so we must have targeted correctly."
The other massive change was a complete floor plan redesign. "General Motors moved into a cluster of eight buildings to have their own brand alliance and this prompted a complete redrawing of 11 out of my total of 13 buildings," says Castle. "But it's always good to look at the floor with a fresh set of eyes and I think the show looked and flowed better with all the changes."
In addition to the Tyke Trike Track and Toddler Play Area in the Kid's Time Out space, they added an indoor bounce house and a radio-controlled car track for the bigger kids.
They then moved in additional seating so the parents could take a break and still be able to watch their children as they played.
Despite market conditions, the Sacramento International Auto Show grew again this year to become over 600,000 square feet of inside and outside space. "The auto show is a benefit for the Sacramento area," notes Castle. "This was one of our most challenging years ever, but we came away knowing it was a great success as we actually raised more money for our causes than any previous year. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to make this auto show thrive - and this year we needed an amazing amount of help and we got it."
Seattle: Ticket giveaways, early marketing . . . it all workedWith every reason not to be overwhelmingly positive about the state of the auto industry (and the economy in general), Jim Hammond is still buoyant about how the Seattle International Auto Show played out this year.
"Everything considered, we did very well indeed," he adds.
And the reason? Hammond credits a greatly enhanced media blitz with much of the momentum that had show goers heading to the Qwest Field Event Center.
"We had five times the coverage we would normally have," says Hammond, adding that advance news surrounding the show amounted to more than $1 million in free publicity. "Every radio station, every newspaper, every television station went out of their way to give us coverage," he says.
With the election season over and automotive advertising back in the driver's seat as the dominant sector, the media had every reason to bump up their support of the auto show.
Show media consultants also went to work with a reconstituted marketing campaign, something Hammond admits was a departure from what had become the norm for some 30 years.
That new strategy included having gender specific voice over talent (male and female for stations catering primarily to those audiences) but with a single, compelling message: Make the wise drive to more hybrids, more crossovers, more sports cars, more everything, more auto show.
Hammond says the message hit home.
"Once a year, everything is here," he adds. "If you're in the market, thinking about changing what you drive, or you just love cars, make the wise drive."
Consumers already understand it's a buyer's market and Hammond says the Seattle auto show acknowledged that with an added message: Never are you going to be able to get the car you want with these incentives.
With a wide variety of green vehicles on display (including General Motors' "Green Kit" that included a full line of hybrids and fuel efficient offerings), the show also included specialty electric, hydrogen and biofuel alternative fuel vehicles.
Even motorcycles were part of the mix, with nine separate manufacturers featured.
Hammond was also pleased to feature the blazingly fast Porsche G2, which reaches 60 mph in a scant 3.6 seconds (99 mph in 7.4 seconds). "We literally got it from a customer," he adds.
In the concept car department, Hammond says manufacturers, notably Ford, exceeded his expectations. "They did an incredible job."
Hammond credits an advanced marketing program that started a month before the show (at least a week earlier than normal) as helping with the show's success.
"We started leaking things out to the media and that also helped drive enthusiasm for the show," he notes, adding that an e-campaign (complete with YouTube videos and e-cards that made their way around the Internet) generated new and renewed interest.
The auto show also worked with the 550,000-member Boeing Employee Credit Union to promote the event, a key to Hammond's strategy of keeping the show full.
"We gave away thousands of tickets this year," he adds. "And the people came."
Tampa Bay: E-ticket success gives show marketing momentumWith one of the early shows of the season now wrapped up, the Tampa Bay International Auto Show (held November 6-9, 2008) left ATAE George Wilson in good spirits.
"It was a very good show," says Wilson, who manages the Greater Tampa Bay Automobile Dealers Association, Inc.
"All in all, we were very pleased with the show," says Marriott, who acknowledges a softening on the exhibitor space side of the business. "In the case of Tampa Bay, we've been sold out there for many years, so any space that dropped off was quickly picked up by other manufacturers."
One of the Tampa Bay show's highlights was the success of e-ticket sales, which Marriott says more than doubled over last year - 122 percent. "It's something we've been emphasizing," he adds. "When you do e-tickets, you not only have a ticket purchase, but you have their name and e-mail address, which is an important advantage for future marketing of the show."
This year, Marriott and his staff are taking the e-marketing to its next level, matching vehicle registrations with the data consumers provide when they sign up for e-tickets or free magazine subscriptions.
While it may be too early to judge the long-term success of the subscription initiative (most have not come up for renewal), Marriott says having the data is an important advantage.
"It gives us the ability to quantify the return on investment for exhibitors," notes Marriott. "We can identify exactly how many vehicles, by make and model, were purchased following a show."
Marriott admits the earlier shows like Tampa Bay may have largely escaped what he expects to be "rolling cuts" as the season progresses.
"They may be fairly dramatic," he says.
What Marriott and the dealer organizations are emphasizing to their members is the unique marketing opportunity represented by the auto show.
The message: counter a dramatic reduction in traffic to dealerships with a targeted investment in a presence at the auto show.
"They could take some of the money they're already spending in marketing and invest it in an event that is within a couple of percentage points of last year," says Marriott.
Dealers are seeing the logic in that argument.
"They're telling us 'we see more people in one day than we saw in the last month in our showroom.'"
At Tampa Bay, continuing to emphasize the latest in automotive offerings, including concepts such as the rear-wheel-drive Ford Interceptor, the Ford Airstream, the Lincoln MKR or the pre-production Chevy Camaro. All were on display in Florida alongside production newcomers such as the Audi R8, Nissan GTR, Dodge Challenger and Corvette ZR1.
Anyone who has been at a show where the DuPont Registry is featured will understand why Tampa Bay continues to welcome its collection of celebrity vehicles.
"We've been working with DuPont for a number of years," notes George Wilson. "This year, we had General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard among the vehicles featured."
Marriott says dealer response to the Tampa Bay International Auto Show was positive, judging by several impromptu visits to the show offices. "My hope is that we continue that success throughout the season."
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
4/3/2009 - 4/5/2009
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Kevin Mazzucola, ATAE President
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
ASNA Focus Group Steering Committee
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor