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Published on Wed, Jan 4, 2017

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


January 4, 2017: Our colleagues over at CarLab in Orange, California sat down the other day with Bob Caza, the Communications Director for the North American International Auto Show, for a Q & A and a look towards the future of the auto show. With over a decade making things happen behind the scenes at Cobo, Bob offered a clear view of the road ahead. Car shows will become less about the car and more about mobility, and shared experience will take precedence over shiny sheet metal. Thanks to a quarter billion-dollar renovation, the crew keeping the Detroit Auto Show relevant in the 21st century now have an extra hundred thousand square feet to play with, and they are planning one heck of an adjoining party called AutoMobili-D with 125 of their most talented friends. The 2017 NAIAS kicks off on Sunday, January 8, 2017 at the Cobo Center in Detroit with the public part of the show running Saturday, January 14 through Sunday, January 22. Here’s the latest in auto show fashions straight from the guy who knows.


Q. How long have you personally been involved with the show? A. My first event with the show was ten years ago, producing an event called The Gallery, which is our ultra-luxury event, but before that I was producing press conferences around the world at auto shows. Today as Communications Director I oversee all NAIAS outgoing communications, so whether it is PR, Social Media or Advertising including our websites and digital presence and even special events, those all fall under my watch. Q. How have PR activities evolved since the time you became involved? A. The biggest thing we are seeing throughout the industry is the proliferation of social media. I would guess that most of the readership is driven by social media and I think that every reporter is tasked with tweeting out every story they write trying to get click through. We’re seeing a big concentration of influencers coming into our show, some that might not write for a Car and Driver or Road & Track. They have 800,000 followers on a social media channel, and that third-party testimonial is very powerful. I think we are seeing a big shift away from normal operating publications to the digital side. Q. What’s different about the show this year that we should know about? A. The biggest thing this year is an event called AutoMobili-D, it is our answer to what is happening inside of the automotive industry. When you take a step back and listen to a lot of the press conferences you’re not hearing manufacturers talk as much about cargo capacity or seating configurations as before, what they’re talking about is mobility features. Whether it’s autonomous drive or the personalization of the cockpit with a smart device, that’s what media are consuming and that’s what manufacturers are dispensing. This year as part of our show, Cobo Center has recently completed a quarter Billion-dollar renovation, we have 120,000 square feet of real estate that we will dedicate to this AutoMobili-D initiative with about 125 different companies participating. We don’t want marketing budgets to drive attention down there, what we want is content. Whether you’re an OE or a tier one startup you have the same infrastructure in our AutoMobili-D area. The one thing we were missing was a forward-facing technology front and that’s where AutoMobili-D came in, Monday and Tuesday, we will stop normal press events around three o’clock, and then we will switch over to the AutoMobili-D press conferences after that.


Q. Five years from now how do you think shows will be different from today? A. I think what you are going to see with auto shows is a much more interactive experience, where the time spent inside an exhibit will be more of an emersion experience, not just kicking tires and sitting in seats. Manufacturers are investing in these beautiful LED walls because they can change their content very easily every single year, so they can rebrand without having to reinvest lots of money in the infrastructure. There is just going to be so much content coming out of the show this year, it is a good first step for us as we transition in to more of a mobility show. I do feel that automotive as a term is going away, you hear a lot of manufacturers say now “We are a mobility company we are not an automotive company” and I think we are starting to follow in those footsteps as well, being a mobility show first and foremost rather than being an auto show. For more information please visit

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