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Nissan, Infiniti Return to Detroit as Sponsors Extend ’12 Show’s Press Preview

Upcoming show will offer full two days of media previews.

by on Jun.17, 2011

The hordes the annual Detroit Auto Show got underway. The media days will double in 2012.

Weary automotive journalists will still wear out the shoe leather, but they’ll have a full two days to complain about their aching feet, next January, when the North American International Auto Show returns to a more traditional two-day media preview.

The shift will be accompanied by the return of Nissan and its luxury brand, Infiniti, which pulled out of the Detroit Auto Show, three years ago, as part of budget-cutting measures.

“We’re thankful that NAIAS is, once again, an important part of Nissan’s international auto show strategy,” Bill Perkins, chairman of the NAIAS, said.

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Nissan was one of a number of makers that pulled out of the Detroit show as the automotive industry began to plunge into its worst recession in more than half a century.  Officially, most makers chose to downplay the financial reasons, insisting that they wanted to concentrate their efforts on those auto shows – and other marketing efforts – where they felt they got a better return for the dollar.

High-line makers, such as Porsche, that opted to leave Detroit’s Cobo Hall, noted that they simply didn’t sell enough cars in the Motor City to justify setting up displays that typically cost several million dollars.

But NAIAS organizers countered that the Detroit show was one of the best-attended in the world, generating extensive media coverage around the globe.  Though many question attendance figures suggesting more than 5,000 journalists routinely come to the January event, the NAIAS clearly draws many times more reporters than the auto shows in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago – and more on a par with the huge international events in Geneva, Beijing, Frankfurt and Paris.

That has led a number of makers to return to Cobo Hall, including Porsche, which ended its own boycott, last January, with an event that began at 6:30 in the morning.

By the time the last news conference ended, nearly 12 hours later, journalists had witnessed roughly 50 global or North American debuts – even before a series of evening events that were spread out across Motown.

Journalists – as acknowledges – are often a whiny lot, but automakers also complained about the 1-day schedule implemented in 2011.  Even on the Internet, they contended, there’s a limit to how much any media outlet can report on, which meant that many all-new vehicles received little to no coverage.

Some normally loyal manufacturers reportedly threatened to boycott the 2012 Detroit Auto Show if organizers repeated the single media day approach.

“We’ve been meeting with automakers all over the world since January,” said Perkins, a Detroit-area dealer who took on the rotating position as NAIAS chairman, adding the show “will return to a two-day press schedule format to accommodate dozens of worldwide and North American product unveilings.”

Officially, most of the main overseas shows also follow a two-day format, but due to rivalry among manufacturers, most now cram the most important previews into their Day One schedules, leaving the following day open for suppliers and minor makers – and for weary reporters to catch up on what they missed the day before.

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