Creating Fun Engagement at North American International Auto Show

January 20, 2015

At last week’s North American International Auto Show Charity Preview in Detroit’s Cobo Center, at which more than 14,000 attendees dressed in tuxes and evening gowns took part, an interesting thing happened on the showfloor.

Several of the exhibitors, which were the largest car manufacturers from around the world, had really fun, interactive and engaging things to do that not only showed off their products, but also created buzz.

With more than 800,000 attendees expected throughout last weekend and this week, it’s an opportune time for the companies to grab people’s attention.

Over at the Scion showroom (you really can’t call it a ‘booth’ since it’s a massive piece of real estate on the showfloor completely built out to display all of the company’s latest cars) there was a ‘Scion Swag Machine’ that resembled a vending machine.

Using Instagram, you were supposed to take a selfie at the show and then tag it with #SCIONSWAGDTW (DTW stands for Detroit) and then post the photo.  

A few moments later, some ‘swag’ dropped into the bottom of the machine, and I was the proud new owner of a Scion key ring.

The Subaru showroom had a few fun things to do also, including stepping up to a green screen, and with the help of the photographer and a video monitor that displayed different scenes around the country and silly props to choose from (like a hot air balloon or kangaroo), you could choose one of the latest car models and take a photo.

Afterward, you could step over to a bank of computer monitors and ‘customize’ your photo even further with even more props, cars and change the scene to anything from a cityscape to the middle of farmlands.

The finished photo is then emailed to you and you could share it far and wide.

In the Ford showroom, which was absolutely massive and packed with people in every square inch of it, there was a discovery station, where kids and adults alike could take crayons and rub on engraved plates that featured different cars’ engine parts to make a picture to take home.

In several other showrooms, including the Hyundai one, there were driving machines in which you could pretend to drive one of the cars. Hyundai took it one step further and to show off its ‘eco-friendly’ car that you had to drive within a certain speed limit and not over- or under-brake in order to score points.

Lastly, in the Chevrolet showroom, people lined up to get a virtual reality driving experience inside on the of the company’s new cars by donning a pair of Oculus Rift glasses.

It was funny to watch people ‘look’ into the back seat of a car in the virtual world when there was nothing actually there in the physical one.

All of these engaging, interactive and most of all FUN activities are great examples of what any exhibitor should be thinking about when spending the time, energy and money to come to a show.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either, just think about creating something that makes someone walking by really want to step on in and hear more about what your company has to offer and maybe make them smile at the same time.

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