QOTD: Do Auto Show Media Days Matter to the Consumer?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
qotd do auto show media days matter to the consumer

Amid the Chicago Auto Show hoopla last week came reports that Mercedes-Benz was considering dropping out of next year’s Detroit Auto Show, news that has since been confirmed. I was invited to a dinner with journalists by an OEM during the Chicago show, and while eating, the PR guy posed a question – “Does the auto show still matter to you guys?”

Immediately, all in attendance agreed that the shows are as important as ever to consumers and the dealers who sell them cars. Which makes sense – the shows are usually run by dealer associations, with the intent of generating sales leads.

For us in the media, though, it’s been an open question. Thanks to changes in technology and how both journalists and PR departments do their jobs, many journalists now find it easier (and cheaper) to cover the shows from home (especially if they snagged embargoed material in advance).

Not to mention that automakers are increasingly spending time and money on off-site reveals (granted, those reveals are still based around the dates of the auto show press days, since the OEMs know journalists will be in town) and sometimes unveiling vehicles well outside of show dates. Ford unveiled the latest Mustang during the public days of last year’s Detroit show, and GMC is doing a major event for the 2019 Sierra in Detroit in a couple of weeks, instead of unveiling it at an auto show.

Auto show media days still hold value for the media, in my opinion. They’re useful for networking, gathering info on background, listening for rumors, photography, and video work, among other things. You’ll notice, though, that with exception of photo and video, none of those things really have a lot to do with “breaking news.”

What say you, dear reader? Are you combing TTAC and our competitors’ sites for info during each press day? Does what happen during the media days affect your decision to go to a show? Do the unveilings influence your buying process? Or are media days simply irrelevant now?

The PR guy who hosted us in Chicago reps a brand that skipped Detroit this year, one of several that didn’t go to Cobo. Yet his brand, and most of the others that skipped Detroit, had a presence in Chicago. I was told that some OEMs will skip a show if they don’t have a product to announce because it’s not a good sales market for them – but they will come to cities that are strong markets. So if a brand doesn’t do well in Detroit but sells lots of cars in Chicago or New York, they’ll skip Detroit (unless they have an announcement to make) and spend the money on a stand in one of those cities.

That makes sense from a business perspective, but it does limit that brand’s exposure to media and consumers. Or maybe not, at least from a media perspective, if those media days matter less than they did 10 or 15 years ago.

Consumer days aren’t going away anytime soon, but perhaps our editorial calendar will look vastly different in five years’ time. Weigh in below.

[Image: TTAC]

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3 of 18 comments
  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Feb 15, 2018

    This discussion is being held in just about every industry. Are trade shows worth the money spent, and if you do decide to exhibit, which shows give you the most bang for the buck? Gibson decided to not exhibit at the big NAMM show in Anaheim last month. Instead they showed their new guitars at the CES show in Vegas. Sound familiar? Car companies have been using the Consumer Eletronics Show as they've rushed into technology, with the LA, Detroit and Chicago shows losing out on some reveals to CES. I agree with Peter DeLorenzo that they should move the NAIAS from January to June, in part to create some separation from the CES, but also because Detroit is a much better place to visit in June than in January. Back when all new models went on sale in September and magazines had lead times of months, it made sense to do car reveals in January. Now, new models are introduced year-round.

  • Fred Fred on Feb 15, 2018

    If I'm shopping or thinking about buying a car and that car is on my list, then, yes, I'm interested. Otherwise it's just general entertainrment.

    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Feb 15, 2018

      I consider all "automotive journalism" to be general entertainment. If I am actually interested in a car I will just go drive it and make my own opinions.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.