"After a 'traditional' first day of media preview in 2011," said show Chairman Steve Foley, "we fashioned a second day as an experiment to include social media in mixture with the regular motor press corps. The results were positive enough that we've decided to come back in 2012 with a second helping of that formula-but then extending it for the remainder of the show's 10-day public run."
Five years ago, bloggers and other unestablished media outlets might have had trouble securing a credential to see the media preview of a major auto show. But with the way that Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social outlets have grown, the Chicago show is ready to not only embrace them and welcome them to the show, but to view their presence as a means of starting a snowball effect of ongoing social coverage of our show.
Manufacturers who participated in the program at last year's show found that they could effectively address and influence their various constituencies directly and in a cost-effective manner.
"Our objective is to extend the reach and effectiveness of our media preview well into the public days of the show," continued Foley.
"Anyone who saw the 250 percent increase in 'Cyber Monday' sales numbers can see the change in attitude about how people get information and use their smart phones," said Michael Ettleson, the show's co-chairman. "For sure, they're not just using them as a means of making phone calls. They're becoming increasingly comfortable with doing research, buying goods, and posting up their interests. Anyone with a smart phone in their pocket is now a content conduit."
"We're not afraid of trying new things in Chicago to connect our exhibitors with the public or media," continued Ettleson. "Last year we took the first step to show that the traditional media and social media can share the nation's biggest automotive. So let's not get in their way, but rather bring them together again and let our industry benefit from it."
"Our exhibitors will be able to invite up to 300 guests to events or presentations they might like to do on the show floor that might not require a full-on news conference setup," said Ettleson.
The methodology for exhibitors is simple: Show officials will set up separate URLs to each participating manufacturer allowing them to identify and "self-credential" their specific influencers, hand-raisers, club members, fans, brand-bloggers, and others the PR and marketing arms of each company found valuable.
Among the events held on Social Media Day at the 2011 show were:
- Breakfast with (then) Dodge President Ralph Gilles, now the SRT Boss
- Porsche welcomed fans for a meet, greet and chat time with IMSA legend driver Price Cobb (arguably the only guy in the house who ever drove a 962!)
- Audi flying in a group of social media who were instrumental in influencing the company to bring the TT RS model to the states
- VW's demos of its new Fender audio systems to the music community
- Test Tracks. Test Tracks. Test Tracks!
Auto Show General Manager Dave Sloan said: "If we can find better ways to connect our exhibitors with the public, we're going to give it a shot. We did that last year and discovered that we had a good concept that was resonating. So now we're on to our next version for 2012's show. We invite our exhibitors and media to help us spread the word about a wave that's making an undeniable positive effect on the industry."
About the Chicago Auto Show: The Chicago Auto Show is the largest on the continent, spanning more than 1 million square feet of production, concept and exotic vehicle exhibit space. In addition to hosting multiple world and North American vehicle debuts, the Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity raises nearly $2 million annually for 18 worthy Chicago organizations in a single night. The 2012 public show will be held from February 10-19, 2012. For more information, visit www.chicagoautoshow.com or www.facebook.com/chicagoautoshow.
About the Chicago Auto Show: The Chicago Auto Show is the largest on the continent, spanning over one million square feet of production, concept, and exotic vehicle exhibit space. In addition to hosting multiple world and North American vehicle debuts, the Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity raises nearly $2 million annually for 18 worthy Chicago organizations in a single night. The 2012 public show will be held from February 10 - February 19, 2012. For more information, visit www.chicagoautoshow.com or www.facebook.com/chicagoautoshow.
About the Chicago Auto Trade Association:
- Founded in 1904, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) is the nation's oldest and largest metropolitan dealer organization. It is comprised of approximately 400 franchised new-car dealers and an additional 150 allied members. The group's dealer members employ approximately 19,000 people in the metropolitan area.
- CATA dealerships contribute to the state, county and city tax base with gross receipts of approximately $12.5 billion per dealership in new- and used-cars, parts and service. The extended impact of tax base contribution through CATA dealership employees make this group one of the largest and most influential tax constituencies in the city and state.
- The CATA's mission is to promote and maintain honesty and dependability; employ truth and accuracy in dealer advertising; strive to constantly improve business methods and ethics; and maintain fair competition to serve both dealer and customer.
- The association has produced the world famous Chicago Auto Show since 1935.
Director of Communications
Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Chicago Auto Show
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