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.
Another great auto season debutsWelcome to an exciting new season.
Once again, the auto show season is into full gear, and ASNA’s “The Auto Show Report” is ready to do its part to cover all the details.
Not only do we plan to highlight the various ASNA member shows as they occur, there’s more than enough room for key industry news. Got any?
Already many ASNA members have taken up our invitation to add us to their media list for news, announcements, events and highlights. If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time.
Each issue of “The Auto Show Report” will also feature a number of ASNA sponsors – the companies that partner with auto shows and do so much to make each year better than the last. And in this business, that’s no easy feat. Speaking of “feet” — in this issue we highlight a partner that’s been with ASNA and most of your shows since the beginning. We’re talking about floor covering specialist D.E. McNabb Company, of course.
We’ll also get inside the head of an advertising veteran who’s truly “out there” and proud of it. Curt Van Loon is the brain behind Adstrategies Inc., an ASNA partner and the East Coast agency that works with more auto shows than any other.
Have we missed something? Let us know. After all, if you’re in the business, this is YOUR newsletter.
'Design Los Angeles' debuts at auto showIt’s a city known for its sense of image — including the legendary glitz and glamour that’s exported round the world.
It’s Los Angeles, of course, already home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of design studios for auto manufacturers.
Little wonder then that the Los Angeles Auto Show is recognizing the area’s formidable design talent as part of its 2005 Design Los Angeles, a showcase challenge that will see studios compete with one another, expressing their concepts of the “Ultimate LA Machine” through 2-D renderings.
The Jan. 6 conference will provide designers with a series of focused meetings, prominent speakers and discussion topics specifically geared toward their profession. Journalists attending the LA Auto Show press days, held concurrently with Design Los Angeles, will be able to interact with designers in key sessions.
Peter Eppen, global marketing director of Solutia’s laminated glazing interlayers business, says the event is an opportunity for participants and observers to keep on the cutting edge of design. As such, he says, the fit for his company is obvious. “We see the innovation and technology we offer as not only useful in the automotive industry, but touching and influencing the architectural industry as well.”
LA Auto Show general manager Andy Fuzesi agrees that the concentration of automotive design houses in the region makes Design Los Angeles a good fit for the show. “This is a natural outgrowth of the proximity of those facilities, where some of the most innovative vehicle designs have been born.”
On their way - shows being held in days ahead
The ultimate perk? Software company kicks in $5k toward ‘green’ carOne can only hope this is a trend of other enticements to come. Or, perhaps it’s just an isolated case of environmental consciousness: a California software company’s reimbursement of $5,000 to employees purchasing of a vehicle that achieves 45 miles per gallon or more in the federal government’s highway fuel-economy rating.
The policy announced by Hyperion Solutions Corp., a Santa Clara-based firm, also specifies the vehicle meet strict low-emissions standards.
To date the only vehicles able to qualify for the reimbursement program, for which Hyperion reportedly has budgeted $1 million — enough to cover 200 cars — are the hybrid gasoline and electric vehicles from Honda and Toyota.
“If the economy is improving and now the options for where you work are a little more diverse, some of the soft touches are as important as the compensation. One of the factors in where you want to work is how proud are you to work there.”
Sullivan says Hyperion’s ability to demonstrate good corporate citizenship and social responsibility is increasingly important, especially in overseas markets.
Today’s most popular children’s charactersFor those out there in the auto show world who find themselves scratching their heads over what kids these days are hooking up with, the popular Lycos Internet search engine has more than a few clues.
In its quarterly listing of the top subjects children are searching for online, Lycos has what may be one of the best bets for auto show “future” attractions involving those important future vehicle customers.
Drum roll please.
The number one subject/children’s TV character in the last three months is “Dragonball Z,” an animated series originating in Japan.
Lycos lists the site’s top 25 characters by frequency of search. While some characters may not be top-of-mind (or any part thereof) for the average auto show organizer, they’re clearly of increasing interest in a world where characters are ever-changing.
D.E. McNabb Company: they’ve got it covered
The company, founded by Donald McNabb in 1951, started in the most general terms possible for a flooring company, laying carpet and other flooring for the residential and commercial market.
By the 1960s, McNabb began providing carpeting and flooring for various auto shows, trade shows and special event displays. Today, the company is one of the preeminent providers of carpet and flooring to the auto show sector, says Scott Clemons, senior vice president at McNabb.
“About 70 percent of our business is auto shows,” says Clemons, who still spends somewhere in the order of 100 days on the road each year (he says it used to be a lot more).
From its Milford, Mich., headquarters, D.E. McNabb has developed a finely-tuned process for outfitting auto shows and other events throughout the U.S. and beyond. As Clemons points out, the company has done its magic in Tokyo, Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris and London.
Especially important, he says, is having an understanding of how important flooring can be to an overall auto show exhibit.
“Talk to the people in fabricating and you’ll hear that it’s vital,” says Clemons. “You’re creating an environment to show off the vehicles in the best possible manner. That means working with exhibit designers from the beginning. Flooring is an integral part of the experience.”
Another key factor in the success of McNabb is how the company services its clients. McNabb sources most of its carpeting from its distribution center in the heart of the industry’s manufacturing base in Dalton, Georgia.
Clemons acknowledges that McNabb, which is owned by Doug McNabb (son of the founder), is a niche company. And that’s just fine with him.
“No one thinks about this stuff, but the fact is, we’re a service company. We know the auto show business from the beginning to the last person out of the building.”
D.E. McNabb can be reached at 248.437.8146.
‘Making money for clients’ is Adstrategies’ focus
“That’s how we like to be measured,” says Van Loon, president of Adstrategies, and ASNA sponsor. And with 30 years’ media experience (and operator of his own agency), he says he’s uniquely qualified to deliver on a promise of value to his clients.
Not surprisingly, those clients include auto shows. “We handle more auto shows than any other advertising agency,” says Van Loon, who adds that those in the business “are going to be in for a wild ‘advertising’ ride in the next couple of years.”
“The traditional media paths we have come to rely on are going through a huge paradigm shift,” says Van Loon. “Five years from now the way we market auto shows will be dramatically different. Those with accurate information and the customer will be able to survive in the new world.”
One of those tools is the ability to do real-time survey through an Internet-based technology, which Van Loon and Adstrategies offers to clients.
“The minute a show is over, a complete survey is ready to print,” says Van Loon, who adds that flexibility is built into the system. “Say, for example, you wanted to know the opinion on an entertainment feature happening only that day. It is very easy to include a question only during the event, then eliminate it after the event. Where we’ve used this type of surveying, the response rate has more than tripled.”
Van Loon launched Adstrategies in 1992, the specific objective being to help companies understand the buying habits of customers. He says it’s working. “We’ve made millions for our clients over the past decade.”
Prior to starting the agency, Van Loon owned and operated radio stations throughout the U.S. He’s also a veteran of the magazine industry, the result being having secured a wide understanding of what works and what doesn’t in the world of advertising and marketing.
“A lot of money is wasted in advertising simply because a business person doesn’t follow the rules,” says Van Loon. “It’s like anything else; breaking the rules comes with considerable risk. And in business the risk is missed sales.”
Now based in Easton, Maryland, Adstrategies has grown every year since its incorporation. The phone number: 410.822.2450 or 888.456.2450.
Alabama breaks new attendance records with great show“Phenomenal.”
No apologies necessary.
“We’ve seen people come from well beyond the Birmingham area, even from into Mississippi, where there isn’t a show,” he notes. And with Birmingham reportedly one of the top vehicle buying cities in the nation - McBrayer says it’s 30 percent higher than the nation’s average - the auto show has even more impact.
“Folks are telling us that people are here to buy cars,” reports McBrayer.
McBrayer also credits good media support for helping drive attendance.
Non-automotive highlights of the show included appearances by cheerleaders from two of Florida’s professional sports teams (the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and an innovative “Who Wants to Be a Meteorologist” display that had participants walk away with a sample tape of a mock weather broadcast.
California success underscores value of auto shows
Two manufacturers – Volvo and Chevrolet – booked the on- and off-site events, respectively.
“It was very interesting to see how the sales loop with these ride and drive events is closed,” says Leutheuser, executive director of the Southland Motor Car Dealers Association, who co-leads the event with John Sackrison, executive director of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association.
“More and more manufacturers are discovering the California International Auto Show as a key opportunity for product announcements, something that was underscored at this year’s event,” says Leutheuser.
Other highlights included press briefings from Ford, Kia, Volvo and DaimlerChrysler as well a keynote speech from Nissan Executive Vice President Jed Connelly. Indeed, about one-third of all manufacturers used the occasion to hold a press event.
Manufacturers are also seeing the auto show venue as an opportunity to hold dealer meetings, something GM did after being invited by Leutheuser and Sackrison.
As the event continues to gain popularity, Leutheuser says more and more show goers also use the show as a source of pre-buying information.
“Our surveys indicate that 60 percent of the people we had coming to the show plan to purchase within the next 12 months,” says Leutheuser. Additional survey questions related to the “tuner” industry showed that 53 percent had a desire to modify their vehicles.
So did the show help with the purchase decision? Leutheuser says the results were overwhelmingly positive – 77 percent indicated they left with information that helped them in their decision to buy.
New England promotions drive attendanceBarbara Pudney might have wished for another sort of “first” but as far as this year’s New England International Auto Show, it was meteorological in nature.
“It was the first time in the 16 years of doing the show,” says Pudney, who as vice president for Paragon Group, is the show’s organizer.
While Pudney says the early November flurries didn’t ultimately affect the overall success of the show, it may have delayed the typical Friday surge before the nine day show ended. But just a bit.
“By Saturday afternoon, we were back in the thick of things,” says Pudney, noting that people drove from as far away as Maryland to see two celebrity draws — Trot Nixon of the victorious Boston Red Sox and the WWE’s Randy Orton.
Pudney says there have been other “win a car” contests, but never with the interest of this one. And she isn’t sure why.
“I wish I knew so I could repeat it next year,” quips Pudney. “We had people spending 20 minutes or more at the display, doing all sorts of calculations.”
Many of them were apparently doing what Pudney had already done in determining the number of balls she’d need for the contest. “I worked with the cubic footage of the vehicle to come up the number I ordered - 240. The winning number was 229.”
What Pudney didn’t count on was the fact that someone would have to inflate the balls when they arrived. “Now we have an air pump for the next time we do this,” she laughed.
Sacramento Auto Show continues to benefit community
So says show producer and executive director of the Central Valley New Car Dealers Association, Stacey Castle.
“Our dealership association puts everything it makes back into the community,” says Castle. “Every year we’ve grown and that means we can expand our services. And that means a lot to the people of Sacramento.”
In this year’s show, expanding has meant adding something entirely different. Besides new car displays from 40 manufacturers, a motorcycle display from Harley-Davidson was added.
“We have a growing number of motorcycle shops in the area and more and more people have been asking about bikes,” says Castle.
The Sacramento show also expanded its display of vehicles from Infineon Raceway which included a drag bike and a new Custom Rod display proved popular for show goers.
Show crowds were entertained by an appearance by the Saturn Relay blimp.
Those community programs include California’s only Mobile Automotive Laboratory, a $125,000 state-of-the-art facility with working models of advanced engine, transmission, brake, electrical and safety systems. Designed and built with funding from the dealer group, the program, dubbed the "Professional Automotive Training Center," is a consortium that includes the dealership association and local colleges, with the goal to assist students and schools by providing scholarships and equipment. More than one half million dollars has been donated for that purpose.
Seattle show goers head to event ready to buyIn many ways, the Seattle International Auto Show was about the numbers.
Or they were helping someone else do the same; an additional 12 percent of attendees said so.
The event featured a number of exotics and new production vehicles, including the new Ford GT and Ford Mustang as well as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G6.
Crowds also got to see a number of vintage classics from Tacoma’s Harold E. LeMay Museum, longtime partner of the show and ASNA participant.
Pick the category and the Seattle Auto Show had something for everyone. Notable among the displays was the Hummer H3 SUT, a number of one-of-a-kind concepts, as well as a bevy of new production vehicles.
Miami/South Florida has crowds looking for hybrids
“People were curious about hybrid technology,” says show coordinator Cliff Ray. “We had six different models on display, and all were received with great interest.”
With some 1,000 vehicles under one roof, the event continues to be of major interest to the Miami area audience, drawn from the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe. The event is sponsored by the South Florida Auto-Truck Dealers Association and its 220 member dealerships.
Tampa Bay still strong despite space challenge
No, George Wilson III isn’t becoming complacent in his operation of the Tampa Bay International Auto Show. But when you’ve got another sold out show with lots of attendees crowding around some of the hottest vehicles in the area, all the superlatives in the world don’t seem to do it justice.
Still, Wilson is effusive about this year’s event on at least a couple of fronts, one being the introduction of a select group of vehicles from the duPont Registry. The organization, with roots in publishing, is known for featuring some of the world’s “higher-end” vehicles, often having been owned by celebrities. Consider it the automotive version of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Vehicles featured included a McLaren F1, Spyker C8, and Hulk Hogan’s “Hulkster” Viper.
One challenge Tampa Bay continues to face is familiar to many shows throughout North America: exhibit space (or lack thereof).
That didn’t stop Wilson from adding a classic concept car display from DaimlerChrysler. Those vehicles included the Chrysler Citadel, Chrysler LHX, Dodge Copperhead, Dodge Sidewinder and Jeep Varsity.
And even though the pre-election period leading up to the show had Wilson and his team from Motor Trend Auto Shows competing for advertising opportunities with hopeful candidates, the end results were far from disappointing for those in the Tampa camp.
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
April 8-10, 2005
Empire State Plaza Auto Show
Nov. 5-7, 2004
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Don McNeeley, ATAE President
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Rod Alberts, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, staff reporter
Elizabeth Katz, staff reporter