Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Show Time in Chicago!

Kia Soul EV!
I'm not the kind of guy who gets all lathered up about auto shows. They are a lot of walking and standing around punctuated by short spurts of jabbering from auto-industry executives. Sometimes there is a reveal or two of some new or redesigned model, but sometimes not.

Detroit is by far the worst show I've ever attended. The goal of show planners there is to credential as many people to attend the media days as want to. As long as the show issues more media credentials this year than last, media days are considered a success. So you have thousands of people rushing from one press conference to the next, stampeding across the exhibition hall floor every 15 minutes or so. Half of these people have never written, blogged, tweeted or broadcast so much as a word about a car and received payment for their efforts. No clue who these people are, but media they ain't.

I haven't attended Detroit for several years. If I had an assignment or two and could make a few bucks on attending, or, if one of the carmakers invited me, I would go. Neither of those things have happened in a while, so I stay home.

One of Chrysler's two indoor ride-and-drive tracks.
Both of those things happen for me at the Chicago show; so I attend it pretty regularly. Coincidentally, it is my favorite major domestic auto show. It's laid back and accessible with basically a one-day media event. Usually there are a lot of industry executives milling around looking for some media type to talk to. Chicago is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with some of these folks.

Nissan has been the show's travel sponsor for the past four years, bringing in and hosting 150 or so media types. For the past couple of years, I've had a few writing assignments from Bankrate for the show. I'm not cranking out Pulitzer Award-winning copy on the show, but it gives me a reason to be there, provides some PR for the show and extremely readable content for my client. Win-win-win!

This year Nissan housed us in the Hyatt connected to the exhibition hall. What an improvement that was! No more getting to and from the show floor on shuttle buses that would run every 30 min or so. Nope, just pop out of bed, shower, dress and walk the equivalent of a city block – inside, out of the cold and weather – to the show floor. Sweet!

Nissan Frontier Diesel concept!

Nissan rolled out its Frontier Diesel concept this year. There were six or eight reveals during the media day and the Frontier was one of them. More than likely Nissan will wind up putting the diesel version into production. 

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro!
Subaru brought out its redesigned 2015 Legacy. Toyota unwrapped its Tundra TRD Pro. And so forth and so on.

Mmmm, beer....
Nissan threw a little welcome get-together the first night. The highlight was the Goose Island Brewery Nissan NV van dispensing some delicious elixirs. 

I'd like chocolate-covered everything, please!
Several of the carmakers holding press conferences provided refreshments at their show areas. Chrysler – that didn't even have a press conference – took the refreshments to a new level with a mid-afternoon snack of Sanders chocolate-covered treats and Bumpy Cake – a chocolate/marshmallow concoction that brought tears to my eyes. 

Heart attack in a pan....
Mazda hosted dinner for 75 or so of us at Gino's East. OMG! That was some good pizza. Each deep-dish pie weighs roughly eight pounds and contains eight slices of heart-stopping goodness at what must be nearly 800 calories a slice. 

What a great sound from the band at the Subaru bash!
After dinner we were whisked off to the after-dinner party arranged by Subaru as part of its Legacy reveal. This is a gathering open to anyone affiliated with the show. What a blow out!

Although getting into Chicago was a bit iffy because of the weather – a number of media couldn't make it – going home was a breeze. The timing of my flight, though, dumped me into Atlanta rush-hour traffic. Making the drive to Greenville was a slugfest for the first 50 or 60 miles, but then the scrum of cars thinned out.

Another Chicago show into the record books.

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