It’s not uncommon to use musical acts to help jazz up the introduction of a new model at an auto show, but Mercedes-Benz clearly broke out the checkbook for the North American International Auto Show, harkening back to the good old days when sales were strong and auto-show budgets were fat.
On Sunday night, Mercedes had the pop group Karmin come in and sing a couple of their hit songs before and after the preview of the all-new CLA sedan. Then on Monday, 1980s superstar Bruce Hornsby and his band graced the Mercedes stand and played his mega-hit “The Way It Is,” on his Steinway piano.
The tie-in is that Gottlieband piano maker William Steinway formed the Daimler Motor Co. on Long Island, NY, in 1888, laying the groundwork for Mercedes’ long history in the U.S.
The result was some ink-stained wretches got to enjoy a few minutes of sweet music before running off to the next press conference.
New Cobo, Less Work
The expansion of Detroit’s Cobo Hall's display space has helped lower the workload of the Detroit Auto Dealers Assn. committee that configures the floor space for NAIAS.
In the past, the committee would change the floor layout more than 100 times before all the exhibitors were satisfied, says Chevrolet dealer Scott LaRiche, president of the association and member of the committee. This year, they’ve only changed the layout 77 times to happily fit in everyone.
Ram President and CEO Fred Diaz, fresh off winning North American Truck of the Year honors for the 1500 pickup, plays coy about the potential for Super Bowl advertising.
When asked if the Ram brand could be in the spotlight this year, he smiles and says, “I can neither confirm nor deny.” He does reveal that topexecutives aren’t shown Super Bowl advertising until the morning before the big game, making it a surprise for everyone.
After introducing the '14 Chevy Corvette Sunday night, GM North America President Mark Reuss deflects questions over whether the 450-hp sports car will bring younger consumers to the auto maker by saying he'd sell one to anyone with the money.
"I'd sell one to my (teenage) son if he had the money," Reuss says. "Of course, if he ever got a speeding ticket, I'd take it right back."
If You See a Better Compliment
- CEO Sergio Marchionne brings an entourage of security guards, a cabinet member and a senator to a radio interview at the auto show here.
Accompanied by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the latter compliments Marchionne on-air, calling him the “Lee Iacocca of the 21st century” for his role in turning around Chrysler.
When asked what he likes better, market share or profits,Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields says, “That’s like asking which of my kids I like best.”
Zetsche Gangnam Style
“It’s the new year, but I’m still struggling to get ‘Gangnam Style’ out of my head,”Chairman Dieter Zetsche confesses to reporters gathered at the press preview of the new Mercedes CLA-Class aimed at the youth market.
However, Zetsche makes clear he is not complaining. The video by Korean pop star Psy recently passed 1 billion views on YouTube, and it just happens to feature a red Mercedes SLK roadster.
“So it possibly it’s the best ad we’ve ever had.”