The former assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Auto Show has been named director of Marketing and Operations for the New Car Dealers Association
San Diego County (NCDA). Auto show veteran Scott Webb
, who was with the LA show for 17 years, most recently as assistant general manager, joined the
NCDA team earlier this month.
Webb will report to ATAE Dean Mansfield
, executive director of the NCDA, which owns the San Diego International Auto Show, and will work with
, show director.
“Our show continues to grow in importance to automotive consumers, retailers and manufacturers,” said Leap, who added that Webb provided contract
support for the San Diego show last January.
“Scott’s LA experience will be an additional benefit to an already solid team, which includes Kevin Leap, Amy Foley, and our Detroit-based PR team of
and Marc Harlow
,” said Mansfield.
While there's no question that those who run the 65+ auto shows held every year are hardworking individuals, they also set aside time to stay on top of their game.
And so it was at the recent ASNA annual Summer Meeting, held this year at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, Calif.
In what was a well-attended two days, beginning with a welcome reception, a group of ATAEs, along with representatives from manufacturers, exhibit houses and allied industries shared their ideas, perspectives and informed suggestions for the betterment of future auto show events.
But not before John Tulloch
, senior vice president, George P. Johnson Experiential Marketing, took a moment to acknowledge those in the packed conference room.
"Congratulations,” said Tulloch. “Congratulations to each and every one of you in this room. We weathered the storm," he said, referencing recent economic challenges for the auto industry in general, and those considered auto show stakeholders. "And we've come back stronger than ever."
Tulloch was part of the exhibit houses and decorators panel discussion that also including Denise Martin
, GES; Al Kirshner
, Freeman; Patrick McGrath
, Czarnowski; and Terri Gudenau
The manufacturer panel discussion featured Ted Dicks
, Subaru; Kathy Faith
, Mazda; Joe Gallant
, Nissan; Grace Morgan
, General Motors; and Erik Thomas
, Hyundai. Among the key discussion points: the strategic importance of engaging customers well before the auto show begins.
Panelists emphasized their willingness to help ATAEs with early promotion of auto shows, a strategy that’s key to successful and well-attended events.
“We need to reach out and grab the consumers attention well before the show; get them engaged at the show; and follow up with them after the show,” said Mazda’s Kathy Faith.
“It’s always about communication,” said General Motors’ Grace Morgan, director of Global Auto Shows, Exhibits & Events. “We can do great work together, and support each other. But we have to talk.”
Another panel dealing exclusively with the hot topic of social media strategies and their impact on auto shows was very well received and kept the attention of meeting attendees.
Highlights of that discussion and other inside industry talk heard at the ASNA Summer Meeting will be recapped in the next issue of
The Auto Show Report.
By all accounts, the 2014 ASNA Summer Meeting was a great success. The two day gathering brought together more auto show directors, manufacturers
and allied industry representatives than any other event for lively discussion and debate, timely presentations, and the pledge to “keep communicating”
for the continuous improvement of the overall auto show experience. Pictured above:
1) Stacey Castle, Sacramento;
2) John Sackrison, Orange County and Gerry Murphy, D.C.;
3) Dean Mansfield, San Diego, Steve Smith, San Jose, Dave Rolf, Hawaii;
4) Al Kirshner, Freeman;
5) Patrick McGrath, Czarnowski;
6) Michelle MacRae, Derse; Alan Liebensohn, New York; Adam Beckett and Jason Gobeyn, Derse;
7) Greg Remensperger, Portland, and Nik Miles, TestMiles.com (keynote speaker);
8) Erik Thomas, Hyundai; Kathy Faith, Mazda; and Grace Morgan, General Motors;
9) John O’Donnell, D.C.; Niki Irby and Erik Thomas, Hyundai; and Bob Yaffe, D.C.
10) Loretta Allman, Charlotte, and Scott Clemons;
11) John Tulloch, George P. Johnson.
It's been quite an auto show journey for Hedy Popson
, who now serves as executive vice president of Productions Plus
, a firm likely best known for providing staff such as product specialists at auto shows.
Popson has been with the firm—taglined "the Talent Shop"—for about 10 years, but has been associated with the auto industry for 26 years, starting as a junior at Michigan State University
, where she graduated with a degree in theatre.
"My Dad worked as a mechanical engineer for one of the automakers, so getting work at an auto show wasn't a stretch," says Popson, a native of Pittsburgh, who was raised in the Detroit area.
By the time she was 23, Popson had headed west, pursuing a goal of acting, nabbing several roles in television productions and movies.
She also started doing spokesperson work, including presentations for clients as diverse as Microsoft
, Federal Express
, roles that Popson says also helped hone her business skills.
And throughout that time, she continued working various auto shows.
"In fact, I turned my acting career into a spokesperson career," says Popson.
In 2004, she joined the LA office of Productions Plus, managing one of four offices (others are located in Detroit, Chicago and New York).
Two years ago she became the firm's chief marketing officer, helping develop strategy and creative concepts for as many as 15 Productions Plus clients.
It may sound simple enough, but the complexity of various brands, and particularly matching the talent available to the personality of those brands, is something Popson and her team work hard to achieve.
"We do our utmost to make sure that we're true to those brands," she says. "When we're looking for product specialists, we're doing so with the brand attributes and characteristics in mind."
Popson has no illusions about what is key to success in a business where a significant number of people who come to an auto show are there to check out the vehicle they plan to buy in the next 12 months.
"Building rapport quickly and securing a lead helps a dealer and that's key," says Popson. "At the end of the day, auto shows are there to help sell cars and we're an important link in that process."
What makes it work is the talent behind the Productions Plus brand.
"What is surprising is the number of people who have found their niche in the role," she says of product specialists in general. "They come with degrees in marketing, and even master's degrees and the depth of talent that we pull from is quite amazing."
It's also a group of people that more so than ever is matching the demographic of the audience that they stand before at an auto show.
"Today, some 30 percent of our roster are people who speak at least two and as many as five different languages," notes Popson.
"We like to say 'we set your stage with phenomenal people,'" says Popson. "Putting the right people in those roles is what we're all about."
Sir Nick Scheele
Sir Nick Scheele
, a British born auto executive who helped rescue the Jaguar brand when it was part of Ford Motor Co., has died at the age of 70. Sir Nick retired as Ford's president and chief operating officer in 2005 after a 40-year career that began when he graduated from college. For his work in saving Jaguar, Queen Elizabeth II had knighted Scheele.
Nearly half the 670,000 visitors to the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show were from outside Switzerland, according to a survey of show goers, the highest percentage of non-Swiss at the show since 2001. The event is the only international motor show recognized by the International Organisation of Automobile Constructors (OICA) that takes place every year in Europe. The 2015 show will take place March 5-15 at Palexpo.
Volkswagen has decided to build a prototype SUV vehicle first shown at the North American International Auto Show at its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. VW expects to spend $600 million to expand the plant, which now makes only Passat sedans. The new vehicle, dubbed the “Crossblue” when it was shown in Detroit, is expected to compete with Ford's Explorer and Toyota's Highlander.
For the first time in 32 years, the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association has a new chief executive. On July 1, ATAE John P. O'Donnell replaced Gerard Murphy as the CEO and president, a post he had held since 1982. But O'Donnell is no stranger to WANADA, having served as executive vice president and more recently as assistant CEO. The association marked the transition with a "passing of the keys" evening on May 29. Murphy has agreed to his own form of transition—he will serve as the dealer group's general counsel for an as-yet-undetermined period of time. O'Donnell can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
, a senior principal researcher at the Toyota Research Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., thinks a driverless car could mean more pollution as people find it easier to move further away from where they work. "U.S. history shows that anytime you make driving easier, there seems to be this inexhaustible desire to live further from things," Laberteaux told an audience at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco. His comments were cited by Bloomberg News.
, an automotive journalist who co-founded the World Car of the Year
awards program, has joined Infiniti as its global product and brand communications director. Davis, whose appointment took effect July 14, will be based at Infiniti's new Hong Kong headquarters. He most recently worked as European correspondent for at AOL Autos.
Johan de Nysschen
Johan de Nysschen
, who up until recently was CEO of Infiniti, Nissan-Renault's luxury brand, has joined General Motors as president of Cadillac. He had been with Infiniti just two years, having served as president of Audi of America for seven years. Prior to that he was president of Audi Japan. He had joined the German automaker in South Africa, where he was general manager.
, a veteran of the automotive marketing scene whose recent work has included agency work on brands such as Nissan, Mazda and Suzuki, has joined George P. Johnson Experiential Marketing as a vice president working on the Toyota account. Ryan, who is based in Torrance, Calif., will work alongside the established creative and strategy teams in both Torrance and Plano, Tex., where Toyota's U.S. operations will be headquartered.
, who was most recently Product Communications manager for Porsche Cars North America, has joined Infiniti Americas as its director of Corporate Communications, a new position at the automaker. Twork, who started in the new Nashville-based job on July 21, will be overall in charge of developing and implementing Infiniti's communications strategy in the Americas, overseeing corporate, brand and product, internal and lifestyle communications. Twork's experience has also included serving in various communications roles at both General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
If you're looking for good news when it comes to an auto show, Austin, Tex., would be a good place to start.
And ATAE Mike Marks
, who runs the Austin Automobile Dealers Association, is the person with whom to speak.
This year's auto show, which experienced a slight increase in attendance, is certainly reflective of a "very, very strong" economy.
"It's been like this for at least two years now," said Marks. "We've had record sales every month."
The signs of that strength include a vibrant downtown on weekends, which is not always the case in some cities.
In downtown Austin, however, things come alive. "It's congested, but for the economy, that's a good thing," said Marks.
That energy spills over into the auto show, where dealers rally to make sure they are taking advantage of consumer demand.
"It's a very important event for us," said Marks. "Our members are solidly behind the show and couldn't imagine not being involved."
Indeed, interest among manufacturers and dealers alike is so strong that Marks said he could easily have sold more space in the Austin Convention Center if he'd had more than the four exhibit halls available for the event.
"We had well over 300 vehicles on display this year and virtually every manufacturer represented. It was a very strong show."
Profile: Austin Auto Show
May 16-18, 2014
Austin Convention Center
210,000 square feet
Adults, $8, Seniors, $5, Children under 12, FREE.
Fri.-Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun., 10 am-6 pm.
Austin Auto Dealers Association
ATAE Michael T. Marks, Austin Auto Dealers Association
Like many other auto shows this season, the Motor Trend International Auto Show—Baltimore experienced a resurgence in attendance.
Certainly a sustained recovery of the economy is one key reason for the 12.8 percent bump in those attending.
But ATAE Peter Kitzmiller
of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association points to another key reason for the show's popularity—the stable of luxury brands that in recent years had missed at a few key names in the lineup.
"We concentrated on getting them back this year and we were successful," said Kitzmiller. "I think that made a big difference."
What also changed was the advertising budget: "We spent significantly more." That, Kitzmiller said, helped create awareness.
Equally significant was where those dollars were spent and it wasn't in the traditional media—the daily Baltimore Sun (a former signature sponsor of the show)—but rather TV, radio and social media.
"We didn't spend a dime on newspaper this year," said Kitzmiller.
Kitzmiller also said a display of luxury cars from the duPont Registry
(also featured at other Motor Trend Auto Shows) was a very popular highlight at the Baltimore show.
Also popular were a number of interactive displays, including a driving simulator from Ford. And the Ride and Drives from General Motors and Chrysler Dodge Jeep.
"We've carved out a pretty good area where people can do the test drives," noted Kitzmiller. "This year, we added a spot that was sheltered so weather didn't become an issue."
The popularity of Ride and Drives hasn't waned, said Kitzmiller. Indeed, he'd like to see at least a couple of more added in future shows. "The leads are just better when you have people in the cars," he said.
Profile: Motor Trend International Auto Show Baltimore
Feb. 6-9, 2014
Baltimore Convention Center
240,000 square feet
$10, Adults, $10; Seniors, $6 (Thurs. & Fri.), $8 (Sat. & Sun.), Military (with ID), $6, Children (7-12), $4; Children under 7, FREE (under 12 on Family Day).
Thursday, noon-10 pm; Friday-Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-7 pm
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE Peter Kitzmiller, President, Maryland Automobile Dealers Association
In two words, ATAE Charlie Howard
has nailed it on the head as far as the appeal of the Cincinnati Auto Expo is concerned.
"When you're a show our size, having product that's not available at the dealership helps creates a great buzz for us," said Howard.
Having had several such vehicles at this year's event—including the new Ford Mustang, Ford's aluminum F-150 (unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January), and the new Jaguar F-type—all were great draws.
The show also featured the 2015 Hyundai Genesis and new Chrysler 200 vehicles.
From a marketing standpoint, Howard said a combination of radio, Internet, and newspaper advertising continues to work well.
There's also a strategy that targets a family audience for the auto show.
"We want very much to project a family experience," said Howard.
That included having the Children's Hospital
as the recipient of funds raised at "Rev it Up!" Charity Preview, which offered $1 admission, $1 hot dogs and soft drinks and $3 draft beers during the Wednesday evening prior to the general admission.
From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the "sneak preview" included the Danny Frazier Band
to entertain attendees.
The show also included a Family Zone with slot car racing, caricatures, video games, face painting, and specially made balloon animals as well as goody bags for the first 1,500 kids aged 8 and under.
So far, one strategy that hasn't worked well is an online ticketing strategy.
Nor has so-called behavioral marketing where e-mail recipients are invited to click for a coupon.
"It just hasn't worked well for us," said Howard. "E-mails weren't opened and clicks weren't made."
Profile: Cincinnati Auto Expo
Feb. 19-23, 2014
Duke Energy Convention Center
200,000 square feet
Adults, $11; Children (13 and under), FREE on Wed., Thurs., Friday, $2 on Saturday and Sunday. Two for one matinees on Thursday and Friday (11 am to 6 pm).
Wed., 5 pm-9 pm; Thurs., 11 am-8:30 pm; Fri., 11 am-9 pm; Sat., 10 am-9 pm; Sun., 11 am-5 pm.
Hart Productions, Inc.
ATAE Charlie Howard
Executive Vice President
Greater Cincinnati Automobile Dealers Association
When it comes to the welcoming mat, especially for automakers who want to put the best possible light on the new vehicles they're bringing to the public, Jason Wilson
is all about service.
As executive director of the Richmond New Car Dealers Association, Wilson's key responsibility is to make sure the Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show is the best place for those who expect to buy a vehicle in the next six to 12 months to check out their ride.
And Richmond is the place to do just that.
The three-day show begins with a Friday morning VIP breakfast for not only local dealers and business partners, but the high school students enrolled in the automotive tech program run by the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association.
Wilson reports to ATAE Don Hall
, CEO of the VADA. His primary duties focus on making sure the auto show runs as expected.
This past year proved to be one of the most successful in recent history, at least in part due to the participation of manufacturers.
"We had an outstanding selection of vehicles," notes Wilson, who ensured show goers were able to see virtually everything available in the local market.
Wilson pointed to an integrated marketing strategy as being key to the higher show traffic.
"It's never about ‘one thing,’ but we did change up our marketing this year. There weren't as many media outlets used, but we had heavier penetration and I think that was what made the difference."
While the weather cooperated, Wilson is keenly aware of the effect the March Madness basketball tournament can have on attendance, specifically when two of the area's favorite schools—Virginia Commonwealth University
(based in Richmond) and the University of Virginia
It's one reason plans are underway to have the show dates moved to the second week in March rather than the end of the month, a change that will likely take effect in 2016.
Non-vehicle entertainment included appearances by the Purina Pro Plan Performance Team
, a group of rescued, pure and mixed breed dogs, small to large, which travel the country.
A portion of auto show revenues benefit organizations such as the Central Virginia Food Bank
and its FeedMore program, with a food bank, Meals on Wheels, and Community Kitchen initiatives.
"The money goes right back into the community," said Wilson.
Profile: Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show
March 21-23, 2014
Greater Richmond Convention Center
150,000 square feet
Adults, $10; Seniors, $5; Active military (with ID), $5; Children (7-12), $3; Children 6 and undeer and 12 and under on Family Day, FREE.
Friday & Saturday, 10 am-9 pm; Sunday 10 am-6 pm
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE Don Hall, CEO, Virginia Automobile Dealers Association
Executive Director, Richmond New Car Dealers Association
As ATAE Brad McAreavy
explains it, the Rochester International Auto Show is nothing if not consistent.
"We don't have a big convention center," he said, referring to the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. "And we pack every conceivable one of those square feet with vehicles, a little more than 200 total."
The consistency comes through McAreavy's mission, which is to bring as many current model vehicles as he possibly can to a show that he believes has a very specific purpose as far as attendees are concerned.
"They are there because they're in the market for buying a new vehicle," said McAreavy. "It's not so much a place where you want to kill a couple of hours. Our show is much more about involving people in the market."
But then there's the key question that every auto dealer wants to know: does it make a difference?
"We know it results in improved sales," said McAreavy. "We see the spike every year and it really does set off the spring selling season."
The Rochester area enjoys an economy that's been largely insulated from radical ups and downs and even the automotive recovery has followed that trend.
"We have an economic cycle that runs in a more narrow up and down band," said McAreavy.
At the most recent auto show, the biggest attractions (other than those cars which can be found at auto dealer showrooms) were the pre-production vehicles (Rochester had seven this year) that consumers won't see for weeks or months.
"Those cars are often roped off and people can't sit in them," said McAreavy. "But they get to see what they look like and it creates a sense of excitement on the floor."
Vehicle sales in the area remain strong and last year experienced the best new car sales in 11 years.
And there's no sign of that easing up.
"We're trending even better this year," said McAreavy. "It's not just the show but the timing of the show, which is key to our sales in this area."
McAreavy and his team are doing what they can to help consumers in the next step of those auto purchases, notably by opening the auto show doors to local auto registration officials. "Show attendees were able to renew their driver's licenses and get help with anything related to registration," said McAreavy. "It was a nice touch and people liked the idea of being able to get that kind of service in a convenient way. And the county clerk enjoys doing it as well."
, who's been helping the Spokane New Car Dealers Association as its show producer since 1994, has seen good times and challenging times.
He's a happy man these days.
"I'll admit there were a few years when it was dragging from one to the next," said Nedved, who operates an advertising firm with the Spokane International Auto Show and ATAE Don Kellman
as its main client.
This year's event, which had a five percent bump in attendance, is a reflection of a market Nedved said is "strong, quite strong" with all dealers doing well.
In fact, Nedved said attendance might have been better had it not been for a Sunday that seemed to have lost momentum.
But that was a minor blip in an otherwise stellar year.
"We had a lot more factory participation," said Nedved, who said the previous year wasn't nearly as strong. "This year, we were over the top."
Notably, a number of very significant automaker displays resulted in what Nedved called a "great look and feel."
That comes in handy in Spokane, where the auto show is one of the few in the country where sales to the public are part of the landscape.
"When we talk about the start of new car sales in our market, that's exactly what it is at the auto show. It's a huge opportunity for dealers in this market and most of them get a large percentage of what they need to do when they come to the show."
The show does what it can to make that an even more valuable experience for dealers, including the incorporation of a test drive facility at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, where the event is held.
And those who show organizers hope will attend are reminded through various media that they'll be able to actually purchase a vehicle when they arrive.
Nedved said the size of the Spokane market is one where dealer cooperation lends itself to a show of this type.
On the other hand, being in the "sell what you see" mindset at a show of this type can mean that dealers can be reluctant to give room to demonstration or "future" vehicles that aren't actually for sale.
Vehicles that run on Compressed Natural Gas may be one example of the kind of display that Nedved said would have a hard time getting a positive dealer reception.
"The attitude is that those vehicles aren't something they can sell right now."
Profile: Spokane International Auto Show
Feb. 14-16, 2014
Spokane County Fair and Expo Center
110,000 square feet
Adults, $7; Seniors (62+), $6; Children under 12, FREE
Friday, 10 am-8 pm; Saturday, 9 am-8 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm.
Kip Nedved, Show Producer
Spokane New Car Dealers Association
You might expect a place like Tampa to be one of those natural places where a Ride and Drive would be at home.
And you'd be right, but for one small problem: Downtown Tampa is a very crowded place.
But Michael Duffy
, a Motor Trend Auto Shows executive who produces the Tampa Bay International Auto Show, is working to overcome that space problem.
Three years ago, he made a major step forward by securing a parking lot across from the Tampa Convention Center, now home during the show for some four Ride and Drive features—Fiat, Chrysler, Mazda and Chevrolet/Buick/GMC.
"Four years ago, we had none," noted Duffy.
He's still working on adding another area near the convention center to expand the Ride and Drive opportunities for manufacturers keen to get show visitors into their new vehicles.
"We're constantly getting calls from people asking specifically about the Ride and Drives, what vehicles will be there and so on," said Duffy. "The interest is clearly there."
This year's show, like others before it, opened to the public immediately after a 90-minute industry event on Friday. A featured guest—this year it was Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi— speaks to members of the three dealer associations that sponsor the show.
Even with a 3.2 percent increase in attendance at the most recent show, Duffy and his dealer associations are continually pushing for more, using every tool available to keep momentum heading in the right direction.
"We have some very good, strong dealers in this market," said Duffy. "And they are very knowledgeable when it comes to how they can use digital media and social media, especially Facebook, to help create awareness and build relationships. That's something we are continuing to work on."
Profile: Tampa Bay International Auto Show
Nov. 22-24, 2013
Tampa Convention Center
185,346 sq. ft.
Adults , $9; Seniors & Military, $5; Children 7 - 12, $5; Children under 6, FREE; Sunday, Nov. 24 is Family Day: All Children 12 & under enter FREE with paying adult.
Friday, Nov. 22, Noon - 10 pm; Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 am -10 pm; Sunday, Nov. 24, 10 am-6 pm.
Motor Trend Auto Shows, LLC
Michael Duffy, event manager
212.915.4412; mobile: (917) 445-4994; firstname.lastname@example.org
ATAE Robert McElheny,
Executive Vice President/Executive Director
Tampa Bay Area New Car Dealers Association
St. Petersburg Automobile Dealers Association
Clearwater Automobile Dealers Association
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
ATAE Executive Director