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December 2, 2008

How the British International Motor Show conquered the downturn

In the middle of a global economic crisis, no one really expected this year’s British International Motor Show at ExCeL London to come close to emulating the success of the 2006 edition.

Although the show was a haven for car-lovers and anyone seeking inspiration as to what vehicle to buy, the stands were less ostentatious than previously, mirroring the tough economic times during which the event was held. This meant that exhibitors had to be more creative in the design of their stands, which made them no less striking.

Incredibly, despite the downturn, the show attracted plenty of attention, becoming the biggest and best attended consumer event in the UK. But how did this reflect on the exhibitors.

French polish
Renault UK decided to take the plunge and exhibit at the show following a successful presence at the 2006 event. The UK car and vans market is hugely competitive, and the French car giant’s main objective was promoting its latest models and launches. And with a total of 23 global and over 40 UK and European premieres by other leading brands at the show, Renault UK was in good company.

Show girl: Ellen McArthur pays a visit to the Renault stand

Since the regeneration of the show under the direction of event organisers International Motor Industry Events (IMIE), the 13-day event certainly delivered hundreds of thousands of Renault UK’s prime target, the UK car-buying public. So exhibiting and added value activity around Renault UK’s participation did seem to fit with its marketing requirements, allowing the company to display a wide selection of its vehicles to a large audience.

Building on success

However, event brand communications manager Mark Waller’s expectations “to build on the success of the 2006 show”, was far exceeded when 472,300 people visited the show, a rise of 14%.

“I’m in the business of promoting our present range, as well as new products and am bound to explore every possible promotional channel available,” he says. “The great benefits that live event marketing delivers, when compared to other channels, are that we have delivered to us thousands of ‘car people’ that can immediately experience our products first hand.

“They can sit in them, play with them, explore them and compare them to the competition, this is not possible in any other genre. We presented vehicles on our stand in support of our wider new launch activity, incorporating the British International Motor Show into Renault UK’s wider marketing strategy.”

Lead generation

Among targets set by Renault UK were ‘qualified leads generated’, a target that Waller is pleased to say was exceeded. “The show allowed people not only to experience the Renault brand, but also to appreciate other aspects of the company that they may not get the chance to see in a dealership,” he continues.

So what advice would Waller give to others considering live marketing?

“Choose the event carefully is my number one tip,” he says. “Targeting is very important, so make sure you ask the right questions of the organisers before you sign up and don’t commit to an event if the show’s demographics don’t match yours.

“For us at Renault UK, live event marketing is very important and most certainly adds value to our brand in a way that other media simply can’t.”

IMIE has recently just launched the brand new Sexy Green Motor Show in partnership with the Eden Project, which will take place at ExCeL London from 1-4 May 2009.

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