In the wake of—and congratulations for—both Hyundai and Land Rover on the Elantra and Evoque being named winners in the Car of the Year competitions, the entire industry now turns its attention to the jury that is most important: the public who vote with hard-earned dollars as they pick what will next occupy space in their garages. Nowhere is that group better represented or more effectively marketed to than the Chicago Auto Show. While the Chicago show is without doubt the biggest, it also takes on the significance of being the most influential on the buying public.
Chicago’s 2012 show opens Feb. 10-19 to the public with a two-day media preview on tap to share new products, new ideas and the expansion of a very successful first run at a social media day at the 2011 edition. Icing the pre-show cake will be the 21st First Look for Charity, benefitting 18 local charities and sending two attendees home with new Cadillacs.
"The car business has many awards that are deserved and well-received," said 2012 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Steve Foley Jr. "But it’s also an industry that is incredibly forward-looking, which means they’re anxious to put all of their wares out for the public and motivate them to buy. It’s not a tough concept to grasp and Chicago is their biggest stage. Awards make those who compete work harder to win. So while there is celebration—and a little envy—there’s also high competition on every level at every show.
"We do everything possible to help manufacturers make that special connection," continued Foley. "From the infinite flexibility of the nation’s best convention center to the relative ease with which it gets built; from the media who cover the pre-show to the TV shows that highlight it to millions of viewers, Chicago is a very special show."
The formal portion of the show’s media preview will commence at Wednesday (Feb. 8) morning’s Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA)/Chicago Auto Show breakfast, where Volvo Cars U.S. President John Maloney will make a trip "back home to Chicago" where he grew up.
Following breakfast, the news moves to the show floor for presentations of new products from GMC, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, and Nissan.
The Economic Club of Chicago luncheon—this year in the Grand Ballroom of McCormick Place—will feature yet another speaker with ties to Chicago. Yoshimi Inaba is President & COO of Toyota Motor North America, Inc.; Chairman & CEO Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.; and Director of Toyota Motor Corporation. Mr. Inaba who studied for his post-graduate degrees at Northwestern University will address one of the nation’s premier business groups. A limited number of tickets are available for this event and are available for registered media in the show’s media center, Room N426. Business attire is required.
Following the Economic Club, Nissan and others will continue with news events, as well as awards presentations from the popular MotorWeek show and others. MotorWeek has presented its Drivers Choice Awards in Chicago for the past 18 years.
Wednesday evening is open, giving media the opportunity to accept whichever invitations they may receive. From 8 p.m. to midnight, though, the show invites registered media to join them for this year’s Sweet Home Chicago party at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street. Tickets for this event will be available in the media center, Room N426 of McCormick Place.
Social Media Thursday
Last year’s Chicago Auto Show took a bold leap forward by being the first to dedicate part of its media preview to the ever-expanding group of social media. Chrysler Corp. will host breakfast, show new vehicles and make executives available for interview in the biggest display they build anywhere.
Throughout the morning, manufacturers will hold events that—while open to traditional media—will be crafted to accommodate bloggers, influencers, Facebook fans, club members and others upon which many turn to for their opinions.
"Think of your friends and there’s always someone who is the ‘expert’ on cars," said show co-chairman Michael Ettleson. "While we have sought them out, the interesting part of our social media group is that it is comprised of people the manufacturers themselves find valuable. Each car maker will be able to invite those they think will benefit from being there.
Those invited aren’t limited to where they go, and programs will be posted and running throughout the day."
"We said in 2011 that we were trying an experiment and seeing what happens, not knowing how it would play out," said the show’s general manager, Dave Sloan. "It was very warmly received by all who participated—both from the manufacturer and social media sides—and the participation in the program this year has expanded nicely. We view this as a big plus in keeping the auto show’s messages in front of the public for the entire ten-day run of the show, not just the preview."
How the show fits in the "Big Puzzle"
"Our mission is to produce an outstanding show for our public," continued Sloan. "But we are also dedicated to our manufacturers, dealer members of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, sponsors and supporters to have a show that’s attractive, affordable, exciting and motivating. It’s what we do best, and I can’t wait to get back to McCormick Place."
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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Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Chicago Auto Show
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