When H.B. Stubbs Companies decided to go after the Hyundai Motors account, it knew it would need some heavy hitters on board. The 65-year-old firm has marquee clients such as HP and Panasonic, and involvement with new project development for the LeMay--America's Car Museum. The firm's focus however was on winning a major automotive account.
But Stubbs decided it needed to enhance its talent pool, starting with Craig Pemberton, who is well known in the industry, having worked at The George P. Johnson Company and most recently, EWI Worldwide.
When Stubbs got the nod from Hyundai, it promptly added another strong player to its lineup: Tim Peters, now director of event services, and former head of global auto shows at General Motors.
Peters, who has worked most of his career at GM, has handled both sides of the business, as an in-house supplier of exhibit services, and on the auto show side.
With formal training as an architect, Peters may have one of the best-rounded pedigrees in the auto show realm, having joined the automaker in the early days of Saturn, working in the dealer network, on the exhibit side, and supporting every GM division.
The addition of Peters must have been music to the ears of those at Hyundai, who recently had a taste of Stubbs' work at the LA Auto Show.
Indeed, in about five weeks (the account came to Stubbs in late August) the automaker had a brand new exhibit, a 15,000-square-foot, two-floor display which
it will use again next month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Variations of that design will be used at other ASNA member shows across the country.
Stubbs is also building a team with the experience and knowledge it needs to continue growing its revitalized auto show business.
"That's something that's certainly setting us apart right now," says Pemberton. "Not everyone has new projects on the horizon, which means in some cases, hiring freezes. That's not the case with us."
As part of its exhibit at the LA Auto Show, CODA Automotive
wanted to make sure it could engage the public around its message of sustainability. EWI Worldwide, based in Livonia, Mich., was part of that mission, developing an iPad application, giving visitors to CODA the opportunity of telling their own sustainability story. "They could Tweet about what they're personally doing to help the environment," says Katie Slattery of EWI Worldwide. "Things like how much gas they use now and what steps they're taking to make a difference, all of which helped support the overall CODA message."
Margery Krevsky, founder and CEO of Productions Plus
, a talent firm that continues to help define what a product specialist can and should be, says wardrobe is the latest area of emphasis. Automakers, says Krevsky, are becoming more and more selective in matching their marketing messages to what's being worn on the show floor. David Heath, senior manager of auto shows and exhibits at American Honda Motor Corp., quoted in The Wall Street Journal
, says having product specialists for Acura wear silver Akris Punto dresses or Burberry suits "matches the sophisticated look that we want our brand to bring to the consumer." At Toyota, that connection between product specialist and the brand extends to the "Toyota red" lipstick that female representatives wear. Krevsky says her firm may have been one of the leaders in a continuing trend. "We took the girls out of ball gowns and put them in clothes that represented the lifestyle of the car."'
QR codes have been used at auto shows throughout the U.S. and Canada to help distribute information to the smart phones of media and consumers, alike. Now Nissan is putting QR codes on its 2012 vehicle stickers. The information gives customers information on comparative fuel economy and emissions, provided they have a smart phone. A consumer downloads a free application and scans the code, which takes them to a unique website for the information on a particular vehicle.
Coming out of the LA Auto Show, where it organized a number of consumer Ride and Drives on behalf of its clients, Gail & Rice
is predicting the concept will continue to grow. "It provides a seamless transition for consumers going from the show floor to behind the wheel of our clients' vehicles," said Jeff MacLean, vice president of product communications. "It's proven to be a win-win for consumers and manufacturers." (Of note, the San Diego International Auto Show hosted a record 10 Ride & Drives.)
While not everyone agrees that total vehicle sales will increase and stay near or above the 14 million mark in the near future, J.D. Power & Associates'
argument for sustained sales beyond that mark is among the most positive. One reason is that the average age of cars and trucks on the road is 11 years, which will translate into replacement time for many consumers.
With the emphasis on Ride and Drives throughout auto shows in the U.S., there may be a connection with recent findings by LeaseTrader.com
, an online lease transfer service, that it's seen a significant increase in the number of people who made a transaction without test driving the vehicle. "We found the number of people who skipped the test drive more than doubled since 2007," John Sternal, a company spokesman, told The New York Times
. One reason may be that the short-term commitment of picking up someone else's lease limits the downside risk. George Peterson, president of industry consulting firm AutoPacific
, may have another twist to offer. "Based on the research we do for our annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, it's fair to say there really aren't any bad cars anymore. I think consumers are picking up on that, so they feel more confident they're making a good decision."
Ford Motor Company's exclusive collaboration with SHFT.com
, a multimedia platform founded by actor and filmmaker Adrian Grenier and film producer Peter Glatzer, is intended to inspire people to make smarter environmental decisions through film, design, art, transportation and culture. With the automaker's strong auto show presence and the interactive nature of SHFT.com, consumers can likely expect to see the fruits of that collaboration, given Glatzer's comments. "Our common goal is to present the best sustainable options to the conscious consumer in an inspiring and entertaining way, and to embrace the individualistic choices people need to make. Sounds like that's a "yes."
When Honda needed a platform to reach college-age buyers with a relevant message, as well as educate them about key features on the new Civic, it was The George P. Johnson Company that delivered the Honda Civic Study Break Tour.
Not only did the series of events give a much-needed study break to college students during finals, it also generated leads and social media buzz, and introduced them to the new Civic. The event was marketed solely on Facebook
and through street teams at six Pac 10 universities in Arizona and California. A text messenge scavenger hunt was designed to teach these future customers about the Civic and sign them up for a sweepstakes to win a 2012 Civic Si Coupe.
With the ever-changing demographic makeup of the United States, firms like Gail & Rice, which provide product specialists to exhibitors at most auto shows, are expecting demand to grow. "When I began with auto shows in the mid 1980s, we may have had maybe one bilingual product specialist working in a city such as Miami or Los Angeles," says Geff Phillips, vice president and account executive at Gail & Rice. "Now most, if not all, of our auto show teams include bilingual staff speaking Spanish, German, Chinese, Korean and even American Sign Language." The advantage is obvious. "It's great to see our product specialists connecting with these valued customers on the floor," added Phillips.
Call it a sign of ongoing recovery; call it pre-auto show excitement. Either way, the
North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2012 is reporting ticket sales for
one of the industry's most well-known pre-show events, the Charity Preview, are
up 20%. The premier black-tie gala is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2012 at Cobo Center.
Bill Perkins, who chairs
the NAIAS, said the numbers are a strong indicator of the health of the industry.
“The fact that Charity Preview ticket sales
are up 20 percent is a pretty strong indicator
of what’s to come.” Tickets for the event are $250, $240 of which is tax deductible.
Proceeds go to several children's charities, which since 1976 have seen more than
$84 million raised at the event, $33 million in the last seven years alone. More
information on the event can be found at www.charitypreview.com
The Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat are
finalists for the 2012 North American Car of the Year, and the BMW
X3, Honda CR-V and Range Rover Evoque are finalists in the truck
category. Winners of the 19th annual competition will be named on
Jan. 9, prior to the opening of the North American International Auto
Show. Last year’s winners were the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer.
The awards for new or substantially redesigned vehicles are judged
by 50 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.
Criteria include general design, safety, fuel economy, handling
and roadworthiness, performance, comfort, quality, functionality,
innovation, driver satisfaction, price and value.
has been named chief creative officer at EEI Global, Inc., a well-known producer of auto show exhibits. Fairweather has worked at
Leo Burnett, JWT and Young & Rubicam London, where he crafted campaigns for Ford, Rolex, Tanqueray, Verizon Wireless, UPS and others. He can be reached at
has been elected president of the 2012 Northwest Automotive Press Association. Miles, a multimedia journalist based in Portland, Oregon, says he has lots of ideas to help advance auto journalism in the Northwest. He can be reached at email@example.com
Former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda
has joined Fisker Automotive
as vice-chairman and chairman of its strategy council in a role that CEO Henrik Fisker says will include day-to-day executive advisory. LaSorda, 57, joined Chrysler in 2000, having previously worked in manufacturing at General Motors.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nissan has announced several moves, starting with that of Jeff Kuhlman
, who has been named Divisional General Manager and Head of Global Communications. Kuhlman comes to the job from Audi of America, where he had been the chief communications officer since 2006, and will report to Simon Sproule, Nissan's Corporate Vice President, Global Marketing Communications. He will be based at Nissan's corporate headquarters in Yokohama, Japan. Kuhlman's career has also included stints at GM, where he began his career.
He can be reached at Jeffery-Kuhlman@mail.nissan.co.jp
In the U.S., Nissan last year promoted David Reuter
to the position of vice president, Corporate Communications. Reuter joined the company in 2010
as director of Corporate Communications. He later became senior director, Nissan Americas, where he was responsible for ensuring alignment across
corporate, product and internal communications functions. Reuter was previously director of Corporate Communications at Bentley Motors, Inc.
He can be reached at email@example.com
Also at Nissan Americas, Dan Bedore
is the company's director, Product Communications. Bedore came to Nissan from Hyundai Motor America, where he was
responsible for social media engagement and public relations for the Hyundai brand including at the Hyundai America Technical Center in the Detroit area.
Bedore now leads Nissan Americas' product communications throughout North, Central and South America, supporting new product launches, auto shows
and major events, and continuing communications across the Nissan and Infiniti product lineups. Prior to his work at Hyundai, Bedore had progressed through
several communications roles at Ford. He can be reached at Dan.Bedore@nissan-usa.com
The Empire State Plaza Auto Show in Albany, a
free show held on state property, attracts a wide
variety of those interested in the latest vehicles.
As is the case with many auto shows staffed
by local dealers, the opportunities to establish
personal rapport with those in the market for a
new vehicle are significant.
For a variety of reasons, the first of two shows in the auto show season for the Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers, Inc. (ENYCAR), was a successful one, says Kim Perrella, managing director and show manager, of the Empire State Plaza Auto Show, held Nov. 4-6, 2011.
Perrella, who works with Deborah Dorman, president of ENYCAR, said people were taking a serious look at the vehicles showcased, the show sharing space with a ski and snowboard expo. "That always assists in bolstering attendance as well," said Perrella.
She also said a passing vote on one of the state worker contracts may have helped encourage attendees who seemed ready to make new car purchase plans.
"We have a fairly stable economy in our region, which doesn't quite see the ups and downs as extremely as elsewhere," noted Perrella.
Highlights of this show included a Mystery Shopper Contest for dealership employees working the show, with salespeople being judged on a variety of attributes, including appearance, product knowledge, and friendliness as well as attempting to set up an appointment.
Another contest, this using Facebook, offered a $500 certificate for the winner of a "Dress your vehicle for the winter" contest.
Perrella said the ENYCAR association did its part in helping to train existing salespeople and those who may have been new to the show through a PowerPoint presentation it sent out two weeks before the event. "The car show is both a means of immediate sales and long-term leads and it's very important for those who are working the show to know and understand the significance," said Perrella.
And now she's looking ahead to the next event: the Albany Show, to be held at the Times Union Center, March 9-11, 2012. "It's just around the corner," Perella said. "Car sales are turning around and we have the show ready to reel in more sales!"
Profile: Empire State Plaza Auto Show
Nov. 4-6, 2011
Empire State Plaza
50,000 square feet
Fri.: 9 am-9 pm; Sat.: 10 am-6 pm; Sun.: 11 am-5:30 pm.
The Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers, Inc.
Kim Perrella, auto show manager
, 518.452.0584, ext. 202
Johnathon Burton may be "the new guy" at the helm of the Alabama International Auto Show, but he's no stranger to the operation, having been active in show preparations for some 10 years.
But with the departure of long-time show producer Brett McBrayer, Burton stepped in for the most recent show. (Burton said he's not a candidate for the position, but the dealer association should be making a decision on a permanent head of staff early in the new year.)
Burton said the Nov. 10-13 event was definitely more upbeat, with an emphasis on crowd-pleasing and traffic generating features. One of the biggest hits was the Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition. Also featured was Corvette's ZR1, which was a major traffic generator.
"This area is very interested in anything to do with sports cars," said Burton, a reference to a concentration of NASCAR fans.
"But it's also truck country, so the latest F-150, the GMC Sierra, and the new Dodge RAM were big hits."
The media also gravitated towards the new Honda CRV, said Burton, who added that the nearby Honda manufacturing plant has produced "a lot of loyal Honda fans in this market."
That being said, crowds of family buyers were also taking stock of the Honda Odyssey van.
Also with family show goers in mind, organizers did their best to make the Birmingham event appeal to that segment of the audience, with what Burton calls "amped-up family fun." That included a Family Fun Zone with Xbox 360 games and inflatables.
Crowds attending the Alabama International Auto Show found
themselves surveying a wide assortment of new vehicles.
Kids are always a big part of most auto shows today,
as evidenced by the Family Fun Zone hosted by the
Alabama International Auto Show.
Profile: Alabama International Auto Show
Nov. 10-13, 2011
Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex
275,000 square feet
$8 Adults, $4 children 6-11, FREE, Children 5 and under
Thurs., noon-9 pm; Fri., 10 am-9 pm; Sat., 10 am-9 pm; Sun., 10 am-6 pm
Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association
Johnathon Burton, Burton Advertising
Gathering opinions from attendees at the
Connecticut International Auto Show is part of
the planning ahead process for show organizers.
Dealers in the Hartford area are seeing a
surge of activity, a reflection of the interest
in the Connecticut International Auto Show.
According to Jim Fleming, the recent Connecticut International Auto Show was "without question the most successful" in recent years.
As the president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, Fleming ought to know. "In the past, in order to get a number of brands to the show, we had to have dealers bring them in. That turned around this year in a very big way."
Fleming said the difference was evident from comments he heard during the show, held Nov. 11-13, 2011.
That was great news for Paragon Group's Barbara Pudney, who said a major power failure (much of the state was without power for more than a week) might well have jeopardized the event.
"As it was, it worked for our advantage in the sense that people were suffering from cabin fever and were looking for something to do," said Pudney.
But it was a close call with the weather, she admits. "We had to redo the ad buy, starting the day after the storm because no one would have seen our TV ads with the power failures."
Thankfully, power was fully restored by Tuesday of the week the show started.
Ahead of the show, everyone involved with the event reached out to the state's media, including newspapers and all four TV networks, emphasizing the importance of the show from a business standpoint.
"We had a tremendous response to our outreach," said Fleming, who said the show received coverage it might not otherwise have received. The result, he said, was improved attendance, in spite of the weather and power woes.
In fact, the weather may have inspired the appearance of Sean Casey's Tornado Intercept Vehicle
, featured on the Storm Chasers Discovery Channel show.
Profile: Connecticut International Auto Show
Nov. 11-13, 2011
Connecticut Convention Center
140,000 square feet
$10 Adults, $5 children 6-12, FREE, Children 6 and under
Fri.-Sat. 11 am-9 pm; Sunday 11 am-5 pm.
Barbara Pudney, Paragon Group
Concepts like this one from Mercedes are always
a hit at events like the LA Auto Show.
This year's LA Auto Show, held Nov. 18-27 including Thanksgiving weekend, was everything Charlie Gill hoped it would be.
"The feedback we had on the show was uniformly excellent," said Gill, executive director, Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association.
He said attendance at the show's two press preview days was strong, and included dozens of worldwide and North American vehicle premiers, presentation of the Green Car of the Year (Honda Civic Natural Gas), and an appearance by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who repeated a pledge to eliminate the city's business tax on dealerships.
There was even a dedicated "Green Ride and Drive" for journalists.
Brendan Flynn, the show's director of communications, said Press Days also featured a noticeable increase in business-oriented activities, with firms such as KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers hosting events. And, the Society of Automotive Analysts held its first west coast event just prior to the show.
"We're definitely seeing more of this type of activity at our show," added Flynn.
It may be "just a video game" but Nintendo's
Mario Brothers franchise became a little more
personal at the LA Auto Show, thanks to the
work of West Coast Customs, which fabricated
a real-life version of the Mario Karts as a
way of promoting version 7 of the game.
Also part of Press Days the Motor Press Guild featured a keynote presentation by Takashi Yamanouchi, president and CEO, Mazda Motor Corp.
With an estimated 10 percent increase in public show attendance, show organizers featured a number of popular offerings, including a variety of sports celebrities throughout the public show, and six Ride and Drives with the participation of Chrysler, Ford, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Kia and Toyota.
Kids were part of the family centered fun, with Hyundai participating in a wristband program designed to help reunite those who may get lost in the crowd, and a "Kids Fun Zone" that featured bounce houses, face-painting, educational activities and video games.
Speaking of video games, Nintendo used the LA Auto Show to unveil its Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS handheld video game system. They also debuted real-life versions of the karts from the game, created by West Coast Customs, of MTV's "Pimp My Ride."
Profile: LA Auto Show
Nov. 18-27, 2011
Los Angeles Convention Center
760,000 square feet
$12 adults, children 12 and under FREE.
Fri., Nov. 18, 11 am-10 pm; Sat., Nov. 19, 9 am-10 pm; Sun., Nov. 20, 9 am-8 pm; Mon. Nov. 21-Wed., Nov. 23, 11 am-10 pm; Thanksgiving Day, 9 am-8 pm; Fri., Nov. 25, 9 am-10 pm; Sat., Nov. 26, 9 am-10 pm; Sun., Nov. 27, 9 am-8 pm.
Scott Webb, assistant GM
Charlie Gill, ATAE
Executive Director, Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association
For Todd Leutheuser
, next June's SoCal Test Drive Expo
in Long Beach could be the "next big thing" as far as auto shows are concerned.
Designed with a multiple Ride and Drive built around a traditional auto show environment, the event, scheduled for June 15-17, 2012, is anchored at the Long Beach Convention Center
and, in fact, will use some two-thirds of the 250,000 square feet of the venue's exhibit space for traditional auto show display properties.
Beyond that, almost everything's different, says Leutheuser, executive director of the Southland Motor Car Dealers Association
in Long Beach.
So far, manufacturers seem to be warming to the idea, with about half a dozen exhibitors making verbal commitments; Leutheuser says he expects the hall to be sold out.
The convention center itself will be bisected with a three-lane 100-foot wide test drive staging area. The display areas adjacent to the staging "track" will be allotted based on the number of Ride and Drive vehicles each manufacturer commits to the show.
"What's unique about this show is that we'll have one registration for all show goers," says Leutheuser, who adds that attendees will have bar-coded wristbands indicating they've been through the registration process.
Anticipating a $10 admission fee, Leutheuser says e-tickets will be a part of the show, likely beginning in May or June.
The layout of the Ride and Drive course, which Leutheuser and his staff have worked "long and hard" to work out with various authorities, includes a private access road to the convention center as well as the same road that's used for the Long Beach Grand Prix, three lanes in each direction with a merging lane that will be coned off for drivers to access the public streets.
With the So Cal Test Drive Expo being held on Father's Day weekend, Leutheuser is anticipating strong interest and strong attendance.
"It will make for a very interesting weekend."
Hot cars like this tricked-out Mustang are
always popular with fans at events like
the South Florida International Auto Show.
Sometimes it takes a big machine to haul
all you've got, one reason show goers
gather to see what's available.
For Richard Baker and the South Florida International Auto Show, a slow start due to the coincidence of Halloween and some 11 inches of rain didn't dampen Miami-area prospective car buyers from bringing attendance for the show very close to last year.
Baker, president of the South Florida Automobile Dealers Association, credits Ride and Drives from Chrysler and Toyota with turning the tide.
"We also had Camp Jeep back, which was one more thing for the consumer to do once they got here," said Baker, referring to the Miami Beach Convention Center.
For this year's show, the success of e-tickets was a highlight, with some 30 percent of tickets now bought online. Discount tickets are also growing, with about half those coming through the doors taking advantage of a $2 discount.
Next year, Baker is dealing with the Halloween issue by having the show move its dates to Nov. 9-18, which also means it will occur during Veterans Day, an opportunity to recognize members of the military at the show.
Profile: South Florida International Auto Show
Oct. 28-Nov. 6, 2011
Miami Beach Convention Center
400,000 square feet
$10 adults, $3 children (6-12), under 6 FREE.
Fri., Oct. 28 5 pm-11 pm; Sat. Oct. 29-Sun Oct. 30 11 am-11 pm;˙Mon-Fri Oct. 31-Nov. 4 2 pm-11 pm; Sat. Nov. 5 11 am-11 pm; Sun. Nov. 6 11 am-9 pm.
South Florida Auto Dealers Association
Richard Baker, ATAE
President, South Florida Automobile Dealers Association
That's what Stacey Castle calls it.
She's talking about Sacramento, where the weather was cooperative and automakers pulled out all the stops to deliver an exciting lineup of Ride and Drive opportunities.
Today more than ever, auto shows are about
families, which is one reason events like
the Sacramento International Auto Show
have lots for kids to do.
Vehicles from Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln and Toyota were featured on five separate courses throughout CalExpo, site of the show.
In all, more than 30 domestic and foreign automakers were represented on the show floor, from high-priced, mega-horsepower exotics, to the increasingly popular electric-powered vehicles and technology.
But it wasn't just new cars that were featured, with the show looking back through history. This year's Sacramento International Auto Show, which took every
inch of Cal Expo, also included a century of motor vehicles.
The look back was a special display hosted by the California Automobile Museum
, including German cars from its popular Wundercars! exhibit.
Castle said having a diversity of vehicles in the show was important, one reason for having several classics on display.
"Not everyone is in the market for a new car, so we make sure to keep the show diverse and appealing to all ages."
"It ended up being just a great show," said Castle.
It was also a family event, with children's play areas every day along with an official family day on Sunday, when those under 16 were admitted with a paying parent. A $7 meal deal with the concessionaire and two designated kid zones helped as well.
Among the new offerings were the latest-generation 2012 Volkswagen Beetle and the all-new 2012 Fiat 500 subcompact, which represents the Italian automaker's
return to the U.S. market after a nearly 30-year absence.
Participants in the Sacramento Bee newspaper promotion
got a chance to win an iPad2.
In a sign of better times ahead, more and more people
are showing up to the auto show.
Profile: Sacramento International Auto Show
Nov. 11-13, 2011
500,000 square feet
$12 adults, children 12 and under free
Fri: 10 am-9 pm; Sat: 10 am-8 pm; Sun: 10 am-6 pm
Central Valley New Car Dealers Association
Stacey Castle, ATAE
Executive Director, CVNCDA
Show Web site:
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
San Jose International Auto Show
ATAE Executive Director