Consumers were ready for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show and, luckily, so were the turnstiles. Even though this year's edition was one day briefer than normal, attendance improved 7 percent over 2014.
The 2015 show hosted 18 world premieres, including the introduction of the Kia Trail'ster concept and important consumer vehicles such as the Acura RDX, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda Pilot and Toyota Avalon.
"With so many attendees and so much room to spread out, the Chicago Auto Show is the nation's consumer auto show," said John Webb, the 2015 Chicago Auto Show chairman. "That was in evidence with the large number of mainstream vehicles that made their world debut here this year."
The 2015 Chicago Auto Show also saw world introductions of the Acura MDX, Chevrolet Silverado?Custom and Midnight and?Colorado GearOn, Ford Police Interceptor, Hyundai Elantra GT and Veloster Rally, Kia Trail'ster concept and Rio, Nissan 370Z Roadster NISMO concept and GT-R LM NISMO race car, Ram Laramie Limited and Toyota Camry and Corolla Special Editions.
In addition to ongoing special guest and celebrity appearances, entire days were devoted to various themes, such as Family Day, when manufacturers hosted programs tailored to families, including kid-oriented activities and safety events. Other special days included Women's Day, Hispanic Day, and the show's annual three-day Food Drive.
Eighty-eight hours of radio programming emanated from the auto show floor, as?well as immeasurable promotions and teases.
In capitalizing on?the large number of attendees, the Chicago Auto Show also is a leader in technology and social media activations. The show provided free Wi-Fi to all attendees, and the official Chicago Auto Show app had more than 33,000 downloads during the run of the show - nearly three times the number of downloads from a year earlier. In addition, the app incorporated cutting-edge beacon technology designed to message attendees as they approached significant vehicles or sponsor-activation areas.
The Chicago Auto Show also continued to engage with its thousands of fans across social media. The show's #CAS15 was a top trending hashtag on Twitter during the Media Preview, and it directly reached 30 million people totaling 22,500 tweets. Fans also could see their tweets and Instagram posts on a social media wall, a hub where the social media team also hosted a series of Twitter chats and blogger meet-ups throughout the show.
"Our social media strategy is simple: to encourage our thousands of fans and attendees to share their personal experiences of the nation's largest auto show through comments, pictures and videos," said Dave Sloan,?the Chicago Auto Show general manager. "The auto show is a perfect blend of old-school crowdsourcing combined with today's technologies to exponentially increase the marketing reach of the show."
Eighteen area charities shared in more than $2.7 million raised by First Look for Charity, the show's benevolent event. In 24 years, the black-tie gala has raised $42 million. This year's event featured two 2015 model-year prize vehicles: a Ford Explorer and a Ford Fusion. Joe Alexander, of Joliet, held the winning ticket for the Explorer; and Chicagoans Mike and Eileen Mertens won the Fusion.
For the 10th consecutive year, consumer voters proclaimed their favorites in five categories in the show's "Best of Show" balloting. The Chicago Auto Show is the only major auto show that measures its attendees' favorite vehicles and exhibits. Winners in the contest's five categories were:
- Best All-New Production Vehicle: Ford GT
- Best Concept Vehicle: Toyota FT-1
- Best Green Vehicle: BMW i8?
- Best Exhibit: Ford
- Vehicle I'd Most Like to Have in My Driveway: Ford Mustang GT350
Planning is well underway for the 108th Chicago Auto Show. The 2016 edition will open to the public on Feb. 13 and run through Feb. 21. The Media Preview will be Feb. 11-12 and First Look for Charity is Feb. 12, 2016.