Hyundai’s Evans: Pendulum swing favors auto shows

It’s a hot topic among auto marketing types these days: Wither the old-school auto show?

Weighing in last week was Dean Evans, Hyundai Motor America‘s top marketer. He was in Detroit, where the 2019 North American International Auto Show is being ditched by such brands as BMW, Mercedes and Audi. In 2020, the show will shift from January to June.

These days everyone thinks auto shows are passe, right?

Well, not Dean Evans.

“It’s the only place I know where I can put my car and people will pay money to look at it,” he said. “And we don’t like that why? Oh, cuz the marketing guys have got to come up with something more clever … to stick out.

“I make fun a little bit at the bosses of the world who have given CMOs the directive to ‘give me something new, give me something fresh, give me something clever,’ and what we do is go out of the show and do something different [with vehicle launches]. But don’t forget what you are leaving is the only place that people go to look at cars. So why are we giving that up?”

Evans sounds agnostic as to whether a press event should be held inside an auto show.

“You can have the argument,” he said, “but … we need to have a booth there and be loving up our customers while they are paying to come see us. That’s how I feel about auto shows — that we’ve confused the two subjects and we’re killing the good animal because we are confused about the media part of the animal.”

Still, aren’t certain brands wrong for certain auto shows? What about the contention that, given the cost of participation, the Detroit auto market is not compelling for German luxury brands?

“I bet they sell 10,000 cars a year here in Detroit,” Evans said. “If I just put $2 [million], $3 million or $10 million in a BMW facility [in the Detroit area] you’re going to tell me [Detroit is] not important anymore? I’d be like, ‘Are you kidding me … I spent more on my store than you’re giving up five years being here.’ I would be furious.”

The Hyundai executive figures auto shows will make a comeback.

“I think it will be a swinging pendulum. … People love it. One stop. No pressure. It’s something you can do with your family.”

He said Hyundai will be at 73 U.S. shows this year.

“There’s a ton of them,” Evans said, “and what we like is that — especially in a market where the dealers like to do it — it is a really good engagement tool.

“We have a hard time getting them engaged on things, but they like the auto shows. They like running a special during auto show week. We even invite their people to be on the stand with us. It is all about the dealer engagement.”