Mommy bloggers invade car show

Written by on February 26, 2013 in Cars and Chicks, Perspectives, Trends - 14 Comments

Car show dancers“Where’s the washroom?”

That’s hardly the first question you hear at a VIP AutoShow breakfast. But it didn’t come from a crusty auto journo – it was from a lovely young entrepreneur and member of the Women in Biz network.

We were attending a breakfast at the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS), courtesy of Chevrolet, who had arranged for a panel of experts to speak about blogging and branding. There were mommy bloggers, social media mavens, travel writers, entrepreneurs – nary an auto writer in sight. Except for me.

Could this be part of the auto industry’s never-ending quest to reach the female market? One of the experts, Adria MacKenzie, had been whisked up from GM in Detroit to speak about how Chevrolet works with bloggers and partner organizations. Her specialty was non-automotive media and social channels. That would translate to women and, I suspect, the elusive Millennial car consumer – who spends more time on Twitter than watching Top Gear.

Mommy bloggerThe previous day had been Media Day, or more precisely, Automotive Media Day. I had spent 12 hours traipsing through all 600,000 square feet of the car show, and had the calluses to prove it. There were peppy dancers, flashing lights, electro-tunes, fancy videos, and tedious speeches, while glittering coverlets were swept off sparkling new cars. My eyes hurt, my feet hurt.

Electric carts groaning with coffee, bottled water, snacks, pastry and other treats followed the hordes of auto media as we schlepped from one exhibit to the next. Those who tarried were gently guided by car show personnel onto the next spectacle.

Media hordesThere were plenty of vehicles vying for attention, although the most popular were the exotics, concept cars and classics. Even the plainest of sedans had been buffed and polished to a blinding shine, so crackerjack clean you could eat breakfast off the hood. Wary detailers hovered around in blue overalls, spray pump and rag at the ready in case some reckless journo blemish their handiwork with a greasy fingerprint. Security was stiff as well. When I tried to open the door of the sexy red Dodge Viper, my hand was literally slapped away. It was locked anyway, so what’s the big?

The army of auto media were bedecked with high tech audio visual gear – there may have been more cameras than actual people. Entire newsrooms were schlepped from one car to the next. Everybody was interviewing everybody, and photogs elbowed their way through the sea of media, shooing away the lesser journos to get the best shot. Wood Nymphs

It was quite the circus, so it was appropriate that performers from Cirque de Soleil, clad in fluttery purple bodysuits, took centre stage at the Infiniti display. Like mauve wood nymphs, they whirled and fouettéd around a shiny new Infiniti Q50, ending in a reverential pose with Wendy Durward, director of Infiniti Canada. Nobody was quite sure what the message was supposed to be.

I’d like to think it was meant to be an homage to the quiet but unmistakable inroads women are making in the car industry. At another unveiling, Dianne Craig, president of Ford Canada, made a power-suited appearance. There are others – Latondra Newton, Toyota’s vice president of North American corporate strategy; Laura Soave, Head of Fiat Brand North America; and Mary Barra, GM senior vice president, global product development.

Dianne CraigWhich brings us back to the Chevrolet breakfast for non-automotive media, the day after Automotive Media Day. We were breathlessly told how much Chevrolet wanted to help us build our brand, that they were ready to sponsor our blogs and so on. It was a most informative morning, with all kinds of good advice about how to build relationships. We were given gift cards for iTunes and gas and all kinds of useful items, and fed generously.

But when it was time to leave, we couldn’t go. Security had decided the mommy bloggers, social media mavens and travel writers could not roam through the 600,000 square feet of cars unescorted. We were told to wait until noon – and it was only 10:30. That meant an hour and a half cooling our heels, amusing ourselves in the General Motors area.

It speaks volumes about how the industry really does feel about non-automotive types. I strolled out, flashing my CIAS media badge from the day before, and had no problemos. But I felt bad for my breakfast companions – here they had been flattered and feted, only to be abandoned at the gate.

Someone – not naming names – is going to have to try harder.




14 Comments on "Mommy bloggers invade car show"

  1. Jon Jefferson February 27, 2013 at 12:09 am · Reply

    It would have to be annoying to feel like they don’t trust you to form your own opinions instead of what they choose to spoon feed you.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 5, 2013 at 2:45 am · Reply

      It certainly didn’t feel very friendly or trusting – and they had just spent the better part of the morning trying to court us. Such a shame that the morning had a different kind of ending than what they’d hoped for.

  2. Doreen Pendgracs February 28, 2013 at 4:38 am · Reply

    Wow! What a mess-up! All that work they had put into forging relationships, blown by someone’s stupidity! As they say, actions speak louder than words (and free iTunes cards!)

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 5, 2013 at 2:43 am · Reply

      For sure, Doreen. They had a good thing going until it went sideways at the end. Many car companies are trying to get to the female market and the Millennials through non-traditional media, but unfortunately, their strategy needs refining!

  3. Kelly Wade February 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm · Reply

    Haha I can’t say that the actions of such a big name surprises me. Luckily you got away, but obviously they only had the other bloggers there for personal gain and didn’t want them doing anything else but listening to their ideas and pitch’s. It’s still always pretty cool to see new shiny cars though!

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 5, 2013 at 2:40 am · Reply

      I always enjoy going to the car show, even when it’s “work,” since you do get up close to some gorgeous vehicles. And it’s equally as much fun to connect with people and network. The breakfast was supposed to be a networking event as well, and I don’t think trapping us was deliberate – more likely an oversight. Still, it doesn’t look so good on them, does it?!?

  4. A.K.Andrew March 1, 2013 at 10:05 am · Reply

    Quite the jamboree this event & with cirque de soleil to round things out. Not quite sure what the intention of the organisers was by penning people up. But then again, you never know what a bunch of unsupervised women might get up to ! Thanks for the post Krystyna.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 5, 2013 at 2:35 am · Reply

      The smart money says the bloggers were less likely to do any damage to the cars than the auto media, who had been swarming all over the the cars on the previous day. Go figure!

  5. Mary Slagel March 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm · Reply

    Wow! What an amazing experience and opportunity for you. It is always the stories like this that inspire me to keep writing because maybe one day I will get somewhere. But as you showed, even when you have made it to such places like being invited as a blogger to a big event, you are still held back. I think that is amazing how they treated the other bloggers. I would not be a happy camper. At least you were able to escape. Smart thinking.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 5, 2013 at 2:32 am · Reply

      Thank you, Mary. It was a lovely event but obviously someone had overlooked an important detail. Certainly made for a mixed message.

  6. Jeri March 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm · Reply

    To not even be able to roam around the cars is just ridiculous. The whole, “we want you, but not really” tactic is infuriating to say the least.

    • Krystyna Lagowski March 5, 2013 at 2:29 am · Reply

      You said it , Jeri! Don’t know what they were thinking. Wait, that’s it – they weren’t thinking.

  7. Becc March 11, 2013 at 1:54 am · Reply

    I would have been really peeved. What a shame, all that work blown out of the water.

  8. Molly June 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm · Reply

    If they wouldn’t allow the media to roam the car show unescorted, why didn’t the bloggers and other detainees just exit the building and go home? I wouldn’t have stuck around for 1.5 hours being held in a pen. .

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