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Chicago Auto Show readies for its Feb. 13-21 close-up

January 29, 2016
Bakery fresh.
Get ready for a Chicago Auto Show that shouts "new." North America’s largest auto show will feature plenty of models making their world and continental debuts, of course. But attendees will have to be on their toes when it comes to finding them all.
The CATA, which owns and produces the show, has reshuffled the deck and placed nearly every automaker in a different spot on the 1.2 million square foot show floor than audiences had been accustomed to seeing them.
The curtains for the Chicago Auto Show’s 2016 edition "officially" rise Feb. 13, when the general public takes advantage of its nine days to see it all. But newsworthy activities won’t wait that long to commence.
Nissan is jump-starting the news with the introduction of an all-new vehicle at a special media off-site reception on Feb. 10, one day ahead of the show’s official Media Preview.
When the Media Preview does open Feb. 11, Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service Ford Motor Co., will deliver a keynote breakfast address. That afternoon, Alexander "Lex" Kerssemakers, senior vice president, The Americas region, and president and Chief executive of Volvo Cars of North America, will address the Economic Club of Chicago (ECC) Luncheon, also at McCormick Place.
Driving engagement award
The auto manufacturer judged to have had the most buzz-worthy social media campaign will be awarded Feb. 12 during the auto show’s Media Preview. The 2016 Driving Engagement Award is overseen by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, the official trade association for the word-of-mouth and social-media marketing industries.
"Our goal is to help showcase the use of credible, ethical and effective social media and word-of-mouth marketing during the Chicago Auto Show Media Preview and throughout the public show and to help auto brands ‘drive engagement’ with their fans all year long," said Suzanne Fanning, president of the WOMMA.
The final activity before the curtains rise for the public is First Look for Charity, now in its 25th year. The benevolent black-tie event, held the evening before the grand opening, has raised $42 million over the years for area nonprofits. Eighteen Chicago area charities will benefit from more than $2.5 million expected to be raised this year.
First Look for Charity has become one of the special events on the winter schedules of Chicago socialites and car buffs. About 10,000 attendees at the charity gala will be treated to hors d’oeuvres; champagne, wine, beer and soft drinks; and special entertainment presented by the automakers in their displays.
Complementing the culinary efforts of Savor, McCormick Place’s in-house caterer, are a host of notable Chicago restaurants, including Adobo Grill, Frontier, Joe’s Seafood Chicago, Miss Ricky’s, New England Seafood Co., Porkchop, Real Urban Barbecue, Shen Yun, Texas de Brazil, Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, and ZED451.
Spirits will be poured by Brown-Forman, Ménage à Trois Vodka, Sugar Island Rum, Tres Agaves Tequila, and Trinchero Family Estates. Benefactors in attendance also have the chance to win a 2016 Lincoln Black Label MKX or a 2016 Jeep Renegade.
"The Chicago Auto Show is uniformly regarded as the finest auto show in the country, but the charitable cause demonstrates that this auto show is about more than just vehicles and accessories," said Colin Wickstrom, chairman of the 2016 show. "It’s also about giving something to the charities of our community."
Tickets cost $250 and can be purchased at
4 TV specials
The Chicago Auto Show provides the perfect setting for exciting and engaging television, and the Chicago market is strong enough to support multiple live television specials. This year, five stations are producing auto show special programming: ABC, CBS, Telemundo and WGN.
ABC 7 Chicago, the show’s official broadcast partner, will return with a live, 60-minute broadcast originating from the show at 6 p.m. Feb. 13. The special will focus on Chicago Auto Show introductions, new technologies and interactive and engaging activities at the show.
WGN-TV returns with its Motorweek-backed show featuring automotive expert John Davis. The WGN special will also air Feb. 13. Also that day, Telemundo’s show programming will likely air.
The CBS 2 Chicago special will air Feb. 14, and NBC 5 Chicago will have eight cut-ins from the show Feb. 13 and 14. All of the specials are scheduled to be re-broadcast multiple times before the show’s Feb. 21 closing.
Website, app
The auto show’s all-new website and accompanying smartphone app are designed to enhance the attendee experience and bring the show to life across the globe. The 2016 version of features seamless social media integration, historical videos and bigger, bolder image galleries.
Highlighting its extremely active social media channels, the show’s website features Facebook and Twitter conversations on nearly every page. In addition, the site now hosts a social media wall that is constantly updated with the latest conversations across all social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest. 
The show’s listing of vehicles on display, photo galleries and videos are designed to take advantage of today’s large, touch-screen monitors while still being responsive enough to remain fully functional on compact mobile devices.
"We want our attendees to connect to the show on every level," said show Chairman Wickstrom. "We will be providing free high-speed Wi-Fi at the show to allow show-goers to share their experience through social media, our website and our official Chicago Auto Show app."