CHICAGO – Feb. 14, 2012… No matter what age groups show-goers represent, the Chicago Auto Show is one of the industry’s best venues to capture consumer feedback and reactions to the newest products and technologies. While all who make their way through the McCormick Place turnstiles are important, car manufacturers this year are engaging young adults by turning to the platforms most familiar to youth.
“Auto manufacturers have created focused marketing efforts that are designed to interest young adults,” said the show’s general manager, Dave Sloan. “Take Scion’s interactive playing card table as an example, or the Chevy Sonic display, which allows show-goers to play DJ and create their own ringtones. It’s manufacturers reaching their younger and future buyers in their element. Kia’s high-energy display even has the dancing hamsters from its hit commercials, to attract young adults.”
Manufacturers have known for some time that social media is an essential component in the lifestyle of the Net Generation. The displays at this year’s Chicago Auto Show boast more connectivity than ever before, allowing drivers and passengers to connect to their social media networks. The show has a yearlong Facebook page that has attracted thousands who want to be kept abreast of happenings at the show and industry and to sound off on what they think. The auto show “in fewer than 140 characters” is alive and well on Twitter, too, with information and games to enjoy before, at, and after attending the show. (@ChiAutoShow)
While social media connectivity now is being included in many vehicles, auto makers realize the importance of using the same new media channels to market their brands during the show. They have developed apps to deliver entertainment and convenience, all while considering safety as a top priority.
Sloan said: “One of the ways the Chicago Auto Show is helping manufacturers reach a younger crowd is by creating opportunities for manufacturers and young adults to easily interact with one another. Those opportunities started before the general public appeared at McCormick Place, when the show’s media preview included a day dedicated to social media. It provided a means for manufacturers to create programming designed specifically for bloggers and digital influencers.”
Young adults overwhelmingly rely on the Internet for news and information, and manufacturers have taken advantage of that to connect with a young audience. Manufacturers even welcomed college and high school journalism students to the media preview, where the students saw how automotive brands are reaching out to connect to students.
Pre-show media outreach included contacting influential bloggers in categories outside the automotive industry. Bloggers who write about food, parenting, safety, technology, sports, history and marketing help expose the show and, in turn, manufacturers to a younger audience who never before connected with the auto industry or the show.
The Chicago Auto Show has also introduced a new feature that uses social media to share timely information about the show: daily video “webisodes.” Each online video—appearing on the show’s homepage, www.ChicagoAutoShow.com—gives viewers a video snapshot of what’s happening each particular day. The videos include interviews with executives, exhibitors and show management; and consumer reactions to various auto-related topics.
“So far they’ve been a hit,” said Sloan. “Our webisodes are providing a convenient way for people to find out what’s happening at the show, from trends and from consumer perspectives. They are easily shareable, and we’ve had thousands of views. For true car fans or just those looking for the best way to maximize their auto show visit, it’s a fast-paced three minutes of information and fun.”
To view an embeddable video featuring automotive manufacturing executives discussing marketing and interaction with young adults, visit