If you read Clanging Bell from time to time, you probably already know that I'm not fond of auto shows. I think they are wonderful diversions for the public, but basically the journalistic equivalent of the Bantaan Death March.
This is particularly true of the larger shows like Detroit's North American International Auto Show.
For the most part they are a couple of days of being herded from one press conference to the next across acres of convention hall to watch unveilings that you can't see and listen to remarks from auto-company executives that you can't hear.
Whatever vehicle is being introduced is swarmed and surrounded by scores, if not hundreds, of journalists, preventing the taking of any decent photos.
Half the time the auto companies don't have enough press kits to go around.
Any geek with a PC or Mac can learn more about what's going on online from his parents' basement than the average journalist attending the Detroit show.
In other words, in terms of my craft, auto-show media days are pretty much a waste of time.
Yes, they are wonderful for schmoozing and networking. They provide the opportunity to reconnect with clients, as well as auto execs and PR types. Yet, I have to weigh the worth of that against the time and money invested in going to an auto show in a far-away city.
Among the larger domestic auto shows, my favorite is Chicago. It's the country's longest-running and most widely attended show; it's accessible, manageable and well supported by the auto makers.
This is the second year in a row that Nissan was kind enough to invite me and pick up the expenses. I'm not alone. Nissan is a major sponsor of the Chicago show and brought in a couple of hundred journalists for the show's media days.
There were a few world unveilings this year, but fewer than years past. Ford pulled the cover off its redesigned Shelby 500GT Convertible and Hyundai presented its Elantra Coupe. GMC unveiled its redesigned Acadia. Dodge passed out cupcakes to coax journalists to its display to take a close-up look at the all-new Dart.
Nissan hosted dinner the first night at some Japanese joint. My fork -- forget chopsticks -- stayed at rest until the main course arrived, which included some medium-rare sirloin. It was tasty. Sushi and some sort of mystery salad came first. Nope, I'll pass.
That first night I also had dinner invitations from a couple of other companies. I'm strictly a dance-with-the-one-that-brung-ya type. So I stuck with Nissan, even though I knew I wasn't going to be thrilled with the menu.
On the other hand, Nissan had some very charming young ladies working the crowd providing information and answering questions about Nissan's redesigned Z. Oddly enough, I can't remember a word they said, but they made me happy.
On the second night I finagled dinner invitations from a couple of different manufacturers to the same place: Gino's East. It's a pizza joint. I accepted the first invite that I received, which happened to be from Volvo. I had a deep-dish pie with sausage and pepperoni. It was maybe the best pizza I've ever had. Washed it down with some Goose Island Honker's Ale. Outstanding!
The perfect Chicago experience!
Yep, as far as auto shows go, Chicago is my favorite and I'll keep going as long as someone takes me.