A key Chicago Auto Show official surprised members of the media assembled to cover the show this morning when he informed them that they are an important part of the success of the show—but not that important. In fact, he said show organizers were anxious this year for the end of the show’s two-day media preview.
“We’re happy to see each of you and deeply appreciate you being here to cover the show. We are fully aware how important you are to the success of our show,” said Jerry Cizek, Chicago Auto Show General Manager.
“That being said, we’re counting the hours until Friday, when we can throw open the doors of the show and welcome our most important audience—the American consumer.“
Responding to media reports that the era of auto shows as marketing tools is nearing an end, Cizek countered that those reporters rarely stick around to see the most important part of the show.
“If you want to accurately measure the marketing effectiveness of an auto show, shouldn’t you attend one?” Cizek asked. “How many of you have experienced the magic of the Chicago Auto Show on the first Sunday of the show, or the second Saturday. Have any of you stood by a concept car or a new production model and watched reactions of real people, who aren’t tied to the industry?“
“If you think this part of the show—the media preview—is the most important, you are mistaken,” said Cizek. “In Chicago, we believe that the show doesn’t even begin until the minute thousands of consumers start streaming through the turnstiles on the first public day of the show.”
Automakers seem to agree. Cizek noted that while some exhibitors have downsized their exhibits, the Chicago show has not seen the kind of exhibitor exodus experienced by other shows.
“When your sales and marketing dollars are most precious, you invest them where you can generate the best return,” he asserted. “I firmly believe that’s why we have been able to hold things together in Chicago this year.
“We have been gratified that companies have been looking for ways to stay in the show rather than reasons to leave,” Cizek said.
The key to that success, according to Cizek? The Chicago Auto Show sells cars and trucks.
And for an industry starved for success, that’s an important strength to own.
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