The first known auto show held in the United States occurred in 1900 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 121 years later, that event and others like it, continue to implement the most basic of marketing philosophies – put the product in front of consumers to see it, feel it, experience it and buy it.
Over the course of more than a century, we have seen countless approaches to reaching consumers come and go, yet there are some fundamental methods to attracting customers to products that should never fade away. The auto show is one of the most core approaches for automakers to reach auto buyers – there is no denying or refuting it. If the ultimate goal of an automaker is to sell a vehicle, it should be presented first-hand to create an in-person, emotional connection that motivates the consumer to purchase. It worked 120 years ago and it still works today. Exiting that tangible platform is a disservice to consumers.
Using a relevant sports analogy, the ageless quarterback Tom Brady, recognized in most circles as the Greatest Of All Time, continues to play at a high level, delivering a hapless NFL franchise to the playoffs and a shot at another Super Bowl championship. Critics and experts scoffed at any NFL owner who would invest millions in an ancient player, but his track record of delivering the goods is unmatched. Yes, there are numerous younger, flashier, sexier, hipper players out there but none of them have the resume of success as Tom Brady. He is the equivalent of the auto show: He’s there year-in, year-out, providing leadership, wisdom and return on investment. He still brings victories and just because he’s 43 years old doesn’t mean he should be abandoned – neither should the auto show.