Yes, in my view it should be called the “Detroit International Auto Show,” rather than the North American International Auto Show because Detroit is the seat of the auto industry.
Detroit, a global city, put the world on wheels and became the arsenal of democracy.
Every political leader or business executive of local or national stature who is getting ready to stomp Cobo Center for the 2015 North American International Auto Show, being held Jan. 12-25, to tour the glitzy cars and trucks, will be touting the comeback of “Detroit,” not “North America” in the wake of President Obama’s rescue of the auto industry.
They will be underscoring the resilient spirit of a city that refused to give in to failure by rising from the bottom up. They will praise the many lives of Detroit as a city that has gone through so many challenges and still rises.
That is why it makes sense that President Obama will be in the area this week on on Jan. 7 to highlight the successes of General Motors and Chrysler as he prepares for his upcoming State of the Union address.
The unusual federal intervention to help save an industry so rooted in Detroit is one of the biggest economic success stories of the decade, and of the Obama dispensation.
When President Obama decided to pump federal dollars into GM and Chrysler, it wasn’t a popular decision but the president was doing so to not only save an iconic American industry, but to also save many livelihoods in Detroit that depend on those plant jobs.
Imagine what would have happened if GM and Chrysler were allowed to go under, and GM left Detroit for Warren as its headquarters and what that kind of move would have done to the city.
The national and international headlines would have read “Detroit Has Gone Under,” not “North America has gone under.”
Maybe it will take organizers of the show years to finally come around to the idea that an event so tied in Detroit’s economic and cultural DNA should be branded rightfully to reflect the city’s strength, culture, identity and potential instead of the annual North American International Auto Show we are accustomed to.
The fascination with this annual festival of cars makes perfect sense. Detroit has been the city of auto invention for decades. That is what helped put the city on the global map. And that is the reason next week we will see an estimated 5000 journalists from dozens of countries descend on the Motor City looking to chronicle the dimensions of the latest cars and trucks that appeal to our individual lifestyles.
The auto show is the most significant event of the year that places Detroit in the glare of the international press. No other function in this city draws that many journalists to Detroit for a week like the annual festival of cars and trucks does.
My view has always been that the city has still not discovered a creative and effective way to market itself by utilizing the global media attention it receives during auto show week.
Hopefully when “Detroit” replaces “North America,” to aptly describe the show, that will change for the better.
But actually things are already improving. At least that is the sense of optimism we get from the media coverage of the “big stories,” aside from the routine crime stories we get inundated with.
Almost everyone connected to and invested in Detroit is breathing a special air these days called “OptiDetroitZen,” loaded with a high degree of optimism in the air because of what the city is rapidly becoming an unheard of economic destination laced with teachable moments about how we got here.
Even thousands of miles away in Florida, where I was vacationing last week, the optimism about Detroit that’s in the air was evident when a Blue Green Vacations executive started to give me an economic anatomy of Detroit within minutes of our conversation. In plain words he said, “Detroit is the next economic boom,” with his eyes lit up as he went on to narrate how houses are so inexpensive in the city.
At one point I thought I was speaking to a Detroit real estate executive as he began to talk about how economically irresistible the housing market in Detroit currently is. Buy low, sell high is what they call it in the real estate world.
So if a vacation executive far away in the Sunshine state already sees where the city’s economic bearing is headed, it is a lesson that Detroit is dramatically changing before our eyes, not North America. It is a warning to those who have deserted the city that Detroit is the place to be. It is a story that even the most pessimistic observers of Detroit from afar have to reluctantly accept.
Because of that, we should just go ahead and start calling the biggest festival of cars in the world the Detroit International Auto Show and insert that brand into everything that’s related to the auto industry.
Detroit is rising from the ashes, and we expect that the auto show will reflect that shift.
We don’t need to dwell on some of the most important reasons it was called the North American International Auto Show. That’s in the past. Let’s look to the future and what renaming the show to the city’s name would mean for Detroit and everyone proud to be a Detroiter.
At the annual car show, the auto dealers are not selling North America. They are selling Detroit because they are promoting a core industry that has long defined the city.
It makes perfect sense for an annual event which portrays the city as the capital of the auto industry to bear the name the Detroit International Auto Show, instead of the North American International Auto Show.
If the Auto Dealers Association and their affiliated partners recognize this branding opportunity as a way to extol Detroit and all it has to show the world, it will be a win for them.
Slightly changing the name of the show doesn’t require an Executive Order from the White House. It simply requires a commitment and will from those who tell us that all roads lead to Detroit during the week of the auto show.
A release from NAIAS in December noted that they are “revving it up in Detroit,” not North America as the media advisory goes on to explain that the show is “one of the most important automotive events on the planet, NAIAS is consistently the strategic choice of global automakers to launch their new products on Detroit’s world stage.”
Scott LaRiche, chairman of NAIAS 2015, sounded a note of confidence.
“Consumer confidence is high, production numbers and automotive sales continue to climb, and the global industry is stronger than it’s been in years. And our manufacturer partners have committed to bring their most important, global vehicle reveals to Detroit,” he said.