“Show me the Money!”

October 4, 2016


A trip to the Paris Motor Show last week left me with one overwhelming question: Where is the value? In a world of modern marketing, driven by data, analytics and return on investment, I was struggling to find the justification for car manufacturers to be spending hundreds of thousands or maybe millions on the extravaganza.

With some stands seemingly the size of a football pitch and others with gated areas to allow access to just a chosen few, all fronted in the main by agency personnel less than ideally equipped to interact in any meaningful way with the audience, the ratio of cost to engagement didn’t seem to add up. What are the marketing leaders of the automotive brands left with after the show?

At SQN we frame our thinking, strategies, insights and activities around the three Rs of Revenue, Relationships and Reputation on the basis that these three items capture the key metrics that are important to the marketing and business leaders that we speak to. Does all the money spent on such events move the needle on these key measures? Even if the answer is yes, how efficient and effective are they in comparison with other tactics? Does a car launch at a show drive bigger and more sustained revenues. Does it really cut through the noise to get the message out to a bigger audience of buyers, who are somehow more receptive and engaged with your brand than your competitors?

We see content, conversation and experiences as the cornerstones for engagement with customers, but suspect that all three of these are sadly lacking for visitors at Paris, and I suspect, any other Motor Show.

It is certainly convenient for the world’s automotive and broadsheet media to access the majority of the industry at a small number of international events. So media-relations might benefit, along with reputation through the combined media output. As a consequence of the format though, all of your key competitors are getting the similar access at the same time.

This also applies of course to technology industry events like CES, CeBit and IFA. Apple famously stays away from such events, preferring its own dedicated events to create buzz and herald its new products. With several brands missing from Paris for a variety of reasons, one has to wonder what impact their absence will have on their key marketing metrics, if any. The approach doesn’t seem to have been detrimental for Apple.

Excuse the pun, but with the range of vehicles and channels available for buyer communication, outreach and engagement and a number of manufacturers embracing new retail/dealer models, would further investment in these, along with dedicated events provide a better return than glossy Motor Shows?

By Chris Ritchie, Director at SQN