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Marketing 101: Fear of 'Detroit'?

The North American International Auto Show, which ends Sunday, is Detroit's premier event. Despite being held in January, it draws thousands – CEOs, politicians, journalists – to the spread of flashy cars at Detroit's convention center.

This morning on Detroit radio station WJR, the anchor Paul W. Smith raised an interesting question: Should the North American International Auto Show become the “Detroit Auto Show,” as it's commonly known? Actually, in the interview with the NAIS' leaders, he suggested the official name be changed to the "Detroit North American International Auto Show.” But that's too wordy, and problematic for headline writers. “Detroit Auto Show” sounds about right, and would fall in line with comparable events: the LA Auto Show, the New York International Auto Show, and the Tokyo Motor Show. Could it be that even Detroit's biggest boosters fear the city's name, and image?

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  • 1

    Of course the vendors fear the city's name and image..That is why in part TIME is here in the city to exploit and leverage this fear ..

    But this is not a newsflash but then again you know that already what is tragic about this region is that this contempt for Detroit and anything Black in Detroit has always been one of the underlying bedrocks of why this region is so backward and segregated..

    Yet within this truth is another truth outside of the city the level of decadence, decay and incompetence, failure,inflated merit, and shallow substance is more acute and as problematic as in the negative narratives in the city.

    Now that is a great topic for TIME project but I guess trainwrecks and decay sales more magazines and internet eyeballs...

  • 2

    Absolutely, change the name to The Detroit Auto Show or The Detroit International Auto Show. But even more importantly, move the Detroit International Auto Show to early September or late August instead of the cold,grey slush of January. We draw thousands of reporters from all over the world to Detroit and we show Detroit at its worst. No one is going to see the beauty of the River Walk from Cobo to the Rencen in January, for example, but they will in August. While the purpose of the auto show is to sell cars, why not use it to sell Detroit as well? This is free advertising and an opportunity to show off our best. Why are we wasting it? You have never seen Nicole Kidman with cold cream smeared all over her face have you, so why show Detroit packed in ice and snow? And make no mistake, we are in competition with Los Angeles which not only wants our auto show, but our entire auto industry. The NY Times wrote in Jan.2007, "Will journalists and auto executives find they prefer the warm glow of the Los Angeles sun to the wintry slush of the Motor City? If we do nothing, that will certainly happen.
    Moving the auto show to late August would also allow it to be coordinated with the Woodward Dream Cruise, a spectacular event in itself. The worlds car nuts are already here for the auto show, why not give them a real show?

  • 3

    Racebaiting in an Auto Show story too? Wish I could say I was shocked Thrasher. As far as the story is concerned I agree wholeheartedly with Jeff. A name like The Detroit International Auto Show isn't too wordy and certainly defines the show as a combination of both domestic and foreign automakers. The domestic resurgence of quality and market share we are currently seeing in Ford and GM (sorry Chrysler) are themes that can be played up for years to come. The shows date has always confused me too. Bringing in journalists and patrons into the heart of the city at a miserable time in early January never made sense. I suppose that during the NAIAS glory days it really didn't matter but the management has been slow to realize that it now has to compete on a world stage. Highlighting tourism at a time when Michigan weather is gorgeous would be fantastic. Perhaps early October, or even April?

  • 4

    Nice Jeff!

    Nothing wrong with the word Detroit in there, International too.

    It would be fun if there was a certain date associated with the Dream Cruise. There would be an awful lot of people show up and get caught up in the new model unveilings. It should all be coordinated.

    And some drunk could grab Thrasher and stick him up front as a live hood ornament.


  • 5


    Racebaiting for simply stating the obvious about the image of Detroit...Please get over my ability to be candid, honest and straight forward about the racial climate and the impact of such racism in this region..

    Clearly I am not the only person who acknowledges this reality..I found it interesting you did not Steven Gray the author of this commentary a race baiter..

    Of course I know why...

    • 5.1

      Hey thrashmaster,

      I happen to agree with your initial comment. Will wonders never cease?!

      However I think Dan didn't include Mr Gray in his reply to you because the author implied NOTHING racial in the article. I would guess (and Dan can correct me) that he is as dismayed as I am that you find something racial in everything. It's almost as if you are always actively looking for it.

      That's just me being "candid, honest and straight forward about the racial climate and the impact of such racism in this region.."

  • 6


    Now that would not be nice nor productive for a drunk person to behave that way. Jesus does not like ugly Bill..lo,lol,lol

    The reason why of course the shop is held in winter is to drum up sales for dealers in the market when weather impacts foot traffic etc..

  • 7

    Thanks Tim - You're correct that I didn't include SG in my comments because he mentioned nothing racial. I know that in world business (of which certain commentors are no doubt unaware) Detroit is used as cautionary tale of failing business models and gross mismanagement. People in Europe & the rest of the world don't blame race for the cities current negative connotation as much as outdated and unwieldy business strategies. I currently live in Stockholm and when people hear were I'm from the most common response is "wow - it must be so tough to find work there". I'm glad this blog only has regional appeal since I can only imagine what the rest of the world would think if they read some of these comments. I try hard to be a better ambassador for the city.

  • 8

    @ Tim,

    When an author pens a provactive commentary he expects the reader to have some ability to expand and explore the various texture of such a commentary..

    Clearly the undercurrent in this article was race ..I don't look for race in the context of the marketplace often it confronts me racism is simply an aspect of American culture as apple pie ..

    Unlike to many people I have the depth, courage and cultural dna to know when it is present..Like many forces n the universe as a black man I simply engaged my natural cultural gifts.

    It is lethal for a Black man in this society not to have a racial antenna..My racial antenna is calibrated and operates at a very high frequency it is a tool which has made me one of this region's iconic personalities and the brand name progressive assest and resource I am..

    I have such a large following I am sometimes overwhelmed but nevertheless I solider on of course....

    Again that is just me being honest, candid and straight forward about the racial climatead the impact of such racism in this,lol,lol

  • 9

    @ Dan,

    Truth is as a result of my candid and honest comments and posts many people visit this site just to read my analysis on the various topics in part becuase they know the writers for TIME are often handcuffed and TIME"s agenda is not the same as mine..

    In a marketing sense TIME champions my comments on the site in part becuase they generate site activity and becuase my comments forces thier writers to elevate and provide better narratives not to mention I am very seasoned and skilled at racial analysis in the american cultural paradigm..

    Truth is one's domicle means nothing of course idiocy has no boundaries, time zones, zip codes, area codes etc..

    BTW Dan I love the fish soup in Stockholm always a treat when I holiday there...

    • 9.2

      You may contribute to a sitemeter but that is no way related to a "seasoned and skilled racial analysis". You're an obvious troll, a sideshow with nothing to contribute but hate and lies. We both know that if you'd actually visited Scandinavia regularly on holiday, you'd have made mention that the racial climate here is actually much worse and more open than in the US. It's very common for a group at a nice restaurant to go unseated even with reservation if a member of your party is black. You really are the worst kind of troll, an effective one. I occasionally have the time and energy to respond to your poorly educated and grammatically incorrect hate but tonight you win and I'm done with this.

  • 10

    i am officially bored with ALL of you! how about just ignoring each other, make you own point(s) about the article and move on. seriously, it's just tedious at this point.

  • 11

    It's called the NORTH AMERICAN International Auto Show because it's to be the premier event in NORTH AMERICA. It's NOT meant to be a city-based or regional show!!

    That's why there's so much fuss about the poor condition of Cobo and the push to improve it.

    • 11.1

      I agree with your comment as to why this is called the North American International Auto Show. The Detroit Windsor metropolitan area is unique in North America. We draw on a history that spans both sides of the Detroit River with many living on one side while working or going to school on the other.

      One of my irritants with Time magazine's Detroit Blog is that it is entirely focused on the City of Detroit while ignoring the much wider international metropolitan area. It is though there are two worlds in this area. That of the City of Detroit and the other the rest of the international metropolitan area. Only a quarter of the population lives in the City yet the other three quarters just doesn't exist.

  • 12

    @ Steve,

    I don't believe you given you work in media and TIME has zero credibility in the city after your insane insult of not naming ONE Black person as a VIP in your seminal article about the city and your mission..

    BTW my reasons for posting here remain the same thanks for confirming same..

    @ Dan,

    When I am on holiday in Stockholm I never pay attention to the locals I am to busy having fun plus I never eat at chezzy joints and nor do I take the racial temp of the city . I save my opinons for those that impact my community the swedes are not revelant to anything really at end of the day..finally this is a chat forum not an english lit class I could care less about syntax, grammar etc in a chat forum...Get real man this a chat forum for petes sake..



    I shall return of course...

  • 13

    gthrasher, you are a one trick pony. No matter what the subject in these blogs, you manage to monopolize it with race. In my particular case, I strongly believe that our auto show must be moved from the bleakness of January to the warmth of August or September for the benefit of both the auto show and Detroit. It is an issue I have championed for years and I need the input, both positive and negative, from others but now, thanks to you, that will probably not happen, at least not here.

    Please, for the sake of the subject under discussion, try to stay on topic.

    • 13.1

      Honestly, I don't agree with moving the show date. First and foremost this show is an industry show, not a tourist show. To try to turn it into a tourist event is not wise and then to schedule it during the much more active months of the year would be counterproductive.

  • 14


    I am more than a one trick poney but a stable of studs...
    Please be a mature poster in here the most salient reason the show is held in the winter months is becuase the dealers want the foot traffic and in winter months that is not present often the basic answer is the best and most accurate marketing analysis..

    BTW please do not me the villian for being stating the obvious about the image of Detroit as signature marketing tool for a number of events fact is becuase the legacy and lethal imprint of racism in this region it simply stains and contaminates everything and every issue..

    Race has always been a central issue ij this region and our nation I am not responsible for this truth yet folks like you who need to demonize me and reject this fact only hamper the region's recovery...

    Ignorant statements like Dan reveal how backward he is about racism Sweden has zero race leagcy of our nation no slavery, jim crow, disparate treatment, blockbusting, racial busting, profiling etc Swenden is a irrevelant nation with a history of being a playground and vacation spot for Nazi's in WW2 ..Black folks in Sweden are novelty..

    Again my premise remains the same Detroit Auto Show has zero currency and the winter opening makes great cents for the dealers..

    I will of course continue to weave in all topics where it it revelant and on point the issue of race..Please revisit my earlier post on why I post here..

  • 15

    anounceo, the "tourists" that I am targeting, are the 5,000 or so auto journalists and auto executives from all over the world who draw Detroit as their assignment. They will either be Detroit's ambassadors or Detroit's detracters. Their influence is an important factor regarding outside investment and our image. It all depends on how Detroit presents itself.

    I can't verify this as fact, but I"m sure that in the cold, grey slush of winter, our guests see very little of our city and what they do see is not very inviting. Very likely, an unpleasnt experience will also be reflected in their personal encounters as well as their published reports.

    However, the warmth of late summer or early autumn frames our city in a totally different light. The perception of our city is bound to be more favorable. It's an opportunity we can't afford to waste.

    Thanks for your opinion anounceo. Although I don't agree, I appreciate your input.

    • 15.1

      The purpose of the Auto Show is to show the product, not the city. If you want to improve the city experience for the journalists (who, if assigned to it, are going to be here like it or not) you need to coordinate some other activity to coincide with the auto show - maybe something like Winter Blast that takes advantage of the conditions and ameliorates the negative attitude toward the weather (btw not everyone hates winter weather).

      FYI these winter months are the slow months for auto sales so industry sales people are more available to attend than during other months.

  • 16

    Yes anounceo, the purpose of the auto show is to show the product which I have also acknowledged. But that is not it's only function. It also serves to raise $millions for local charities as well as providing entertainment and functioning as a social event. It makes no sense to impose a restriction that it may not also be used to showcase our city. With all of the constant national and worldwide negative publicity we are subjected to, we can't waste this opportunity to show the side of Detroit that the national media never allows anyone else to see.

    Regarding winter weather, sure not everyone hates it. But weighing those that hate it vs those that love it, it's no contest. I quoted the NY Times on this subject in an earlier post. In covering the 2006 LA Auto Show, they also noted, "Also, the balmy Southern California weather contrasts with Michigan in January, especially for those with memories of the 1999 blizzard that virtually shut down Detroit just as its show was gearing up."

    Do we want to continue to risk a beautiful, multi - $million show to the very real possibility of more January blizzards and lower attendance? Those 5,000 auto reporters and executives won't be happy faced with weather delays and cancellations.

    There are many reasons for lower show room attendance at dealerships in the winter other than the weather. There are spring and summer sales incentives meant to clear out last model year inventory which increase warm weather traffic. And some people wait till spring to buy just to get 6 or 7 months of good weather before they subject their new car to the winter road salt.

    With all due respect to our car dealers who, after all, put on this show, it's about more than just selling cars. It's about Detroit and our place in the world.

    • 16.1

      You are aware, are you not, that the show is not staged by the City of Detroit nor some local convention or tourist bureau? If the City wants to look good or reap some other benefit from the event it's up to the City to do it without imposing itself on the show beyond what the show organizers agree to.

    • 16.2

      PS: NAIS does not complain about the weather. A few stupid assigned journalists do - big surprise/big f*cking deal. It's not the weather that will move NAIS - it's the crappy condition of Cobo and an uncooperative city that will.

    • 16.3

      And I never claimed winter weather was the cause of slow auto sales in winter months. I know it isn't.

      Do you realize this show has taken place in Detroit since 1899? That, despite everyone else trying glom on Detroit is *still* central to teh auto industry? That not only are the Big 3 here, but five of the top six automakers have tech centers here? That Southern Cal is more hostile to the US automakers than just about any other legislative region in the nation?

      You people and your goddamned weather complaints need to grow up and deal with reality.

  • 17

    anounceo, you either do not read my posts or you do not comprehend what you read. In my last post I clearly stated, "With all due respect to our car dealers who, after all, put on this show..." Does that not suggest to you that I know that the car dealers and not the City of Detroit are responsible for producing our auto show? You also seem to believe that it's only the City's responsibility to look good. Don't you want the City to look good anounceo? Isn't it everyone's responsibility, including your's, to make the city look good?

    Regarding the weather - no, the NAIAS does not complain about it simply because that would be shooting themselves in the foot - counter productive. And yes, a few "stupid assigned reporters" do complain about it because anounceo, it IS a "BIG F*CKING DEAL." These are professionals who have great influence. Their opinions form our image. Our image is a big factor in determining our future and our quality of life. And if you didn't claim winter weather was responsible for slow winter sales,you most certainly implied it.

    I spent my entire career, all 36 years of it in product planning, engineering and design for two of the Big 3. I am very proud of my career, I am proud of Detroit's rightful claim as THE Motor City, and I am proud of Detroit. But because of globalization, Detroit is not the sole center of the auto world anymore. That breaks my heart. And don't lecture me on Southern California's hostile attack on Detroit's auto industry or on the City of Detroit itself. No one on this blog or the entire City of Detroit knows more about that than I do. I have documented it since 1985.

    I had hoped that you and I could have a respectful exchange of ideas because it is an issue with such great potential but you have decided to turn it into a pissing match. You have closed your mind. I am done.

    • 17.1

      *You* are the one with the closed mind. You have offerred no substantial argument for moving the show other than 'the weather sucks' and 'a few journalists bitch.'

      Let the bitchy NY Times journalist stay home and cover NYC's Fashion Week in February or be sent to Berlin to cover their Fashion Week in January, instead.

      Meanwhile we in Detroit will close the city for you whenever it's below 32 degrees and/or there's a speck of snow or ice on the ground.

  • 18

    Auto show attendance surpasses 2009

    "The 2010 North American International Auto Show has already surpassed last year's attendance and is on track to meet this year's target, organizers said.

    About 690,000 had visited the show by Friday night -- about 40,000 people more than in 2009, show officials said. They were hoping for 700,000 visitors by the show's end on Sunday. Saturday's results will not be tabulated until late at night, officials said. In the meanwhile, attendees were elbow-to-elbow at some displays as they jockeyed for position to take photos of cars, models or cool exhibits..."

  • 19

    Auto show attendance surpasses 2009

    "The 2010 North American International Auto Show has already surpassed last year's attendance and is on track to meet this year's target, organizers said.

    About 690,000 had visited the show by Friday night -- about 40,000 people more than in 2009, show officials said. They were hoping for 700,000 visitors by the show's end on Sunday. Saturday's results will not be tabulated until late at night, officials said. In the meanwhile, attendees were elbow-to-elbow at some displays as they jockeyed for position to take photos of cars, models or cool exhibits..."

  • 20

    Thanks Thrasher for your vigilance. Intellectual colonization, as you know, is just another form of "it."

  • 21


    Thanks....the depth, scope and volume of intellectual underdevelopment( racism, ect) is off the charts on the internet..

    When it comes from liberal whites and Black apologists it stings often even more .Despite the racist legacy of the GOP Black folks need to be in that party to change it..

    Nevertheless the truth is never a easy to digest when it is directed at the very folks who claim to be progressive..

    I post on this site and others for a number of reasons including giving TIME a perspective they are not going to get from the usual suspects.. TIME lost all of its credibility when thier signature mission story did not include ONE BLACK PERSON as an important VIP in he rebirth of the city..

    I enjoy educating backward and underdeveloped enlighten and progressive folks..They display the most,lol,lol

  • 22

    [...] Marketing 101: Fear of ‘Detroit’ [...]

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