"The Chicago Auto Show is widely known as our industry's 'consumer show.'"

"2012 Chicago Auto ShowThat's not just our name. It's our philosophy," according to Steve Foley Jr. chairman of the 2012 CAS. "And with the explosion of social media, it makes our auto show even more effective and attractive-not just for the media preview, but throughout the run of the show. Social media helps to transform and expand the promotion of an event as exciting as an auto show.

"If there's a better place to create more buzz than an auto show, I can't think of one," contends Foley.  "And social media amps up that buzz like a 12-year-old with a can of Red Bull."

The Chicago show is being as proactive as it can be to help its exhibitors execute their plans better and extend the reach of the show beyond what has been available in the past.

Most manufacturers have deployed teams to address social media and plan on expanding them in the future. For instance, the General Motors social media team said that they have embraced the power of social media to not only enhance marketing campaigns, but to stand alone as a component of any vehicle launch plan. While they enjoy working with established bloggers with strong followings, their philosophy-which is in line with the organizers of the Chicago show-is that everyone is an influencer.

It was that philosophy that launched the Chicago Auto Show's first full-on "experimental day" of social media during last February's media preview. It was the first time a full day's activities were produced by manufacturers so that both social media and traditional media was given equal access to the show floor to see what was "behind the curtain" of a media preview.

Likewise, Suzuki has chosen to involve itself not only on Facebook and Twitter, but has also created an iPhone and iPad app called the "Kizashi Ring of Fire" racing game, which debuted as a top 20 download following launch. The app detailed a trip from Tokyo to LA in a Kizashi sedan, Equator pickup and a V-Strom dual sport bike with the editorial staff from MotorTrend, Truck Trend and Motorcyclist magazines."

Chicago Auto Show officials contend that no matter how "electronic" the communication and exposure of a show becomes, there's no better way to kick that experience up than at an auto show-and they see growing evidence of it every year.

"No matter how many posts and tweets go out," said show Chairman Foley, "being at the show addresses a visual, almost visceral connection with the industry and the vehicles we produce. Only at a show can visitors walk up to, watch, ogle, touch and 'drink in' the full intention of the designers, engineers and marketers who created it."

Chrysler's electronic communications chief, Ed Garsten, is also a huge booster. He said: "Over the past six years social media has evolved from esoteric personal electronic diaries to a sophisticated and mandatory marketing and communications tool.  Any company not aggressively involved with social media has positioned itself to lose ground to competitors who are."

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show"At Chrysler," Garsten continued, "we're all-in with multiple blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube handles. We webcast live-and make available on-demand replays-of every auto show reveal."

As an example, Jaguar recently hired Carrot Creative as its U.S. social media agency of record, and has since launched Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for Jaguar North America in support of the current 2012 model year campaign. Land Rover launched its social media initiative in 2010 with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Ford Motor Co. hired social guru Scott Monty to bolster and lead its already active social media activities.

These examples of how our industry's use of social media are but a few of a widespread phenomenon that translates to better communication with all of a company's-or auto show's-constituencies.

At last February's show, Chicago embraced social media to extend the reach of the show and how it was promoted and "pushed out" to the public. This year show organizers are planning to fire a full salvo of social initiatives to help shore up its long-standing position as the nation's most significant consumer show.

"We're already reaching out to the thousands who are already subscribed to our Chicago Auto Show fan pages and Twitter feeds," says Auto Show General Manager Dave Sloan. "But from this point on, we're also looking to cultivate new-and perhaps non-traditional-followers from arenas that people might consider to be normal interest groups.

"When you think of all of the different arenas that are involved in a show of this magnitude, you can expand the show's reach into fresh, new areas that will result in an avalanche of keeping the Chicago show's buzz rolling for the entire time we're occupying McCormick Place. Then after we close, people seek out dealerships in which to vote for their favorites with the most important votes of all: Their own money."

I think capturing that electricity will be a challenge to convey in just 140 characters. Thank goodness they can come to Chicago and post 'til they have no more thumbprints, as each turn of a corner will generate yet another reason to show you were in the heart of the auto world."

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.

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CONTACT:
Paul Brian
Director of Communications
Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Chicago Auto Show
630.424.6069 Direct
630.495.2260 Fax
PaulBrian@DriveChicago.com (Business)

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