The Event Professor is in.


If life is a journey, why not enjoy the ride in a great vehicle? Having surveyed dozens of auto shows, it’s always worth a trip to see the most effective exhibit designs and interactive displays. From Detroit to Chicago I’ve experienced some massive indoor tracks and major product launches, but nothing beats the Los Angeles Auto Show.

For over 100 years the auto industry has produced annual events in most major cities worldwide and this alone confirms that manufacturers see value in display-oriented shows. It also provides them with a chance to attract customers who may have completely tuned out their brand. A well-designed exhibit can draw in a non-customer, result in a test drive, and measurably increase consideration for the brand.


Major brands take advantage of the bright and spacious LA Convention Center to dazzle attendees with creative product displays. Ford went aerodynamic with a selfie balcony and gravity-defying GT. Tesla, at home in the Golden State, showcased a gorgeous display not normally seen at other events.


Major auto shows are so large a guest can’t possibly see everything, so it’s important for a brand to attract attention. To help exhibitors understand what draws the most attendees, Enigma’s Independent Survey measured overall traffic and attendee reaction to each of the 34 major exhibits.

Exhibits can make a considerable impact on potential buyers. Here’s one example: our survey determined that 75% of current European vehicle owners who visited the Audi exhibit claimed the experience increased the likelihood that they would consider the brand for their next purchase.

Enigma’s 2017 LA Auto Show study showed that approximately one-third of attendees were there to seriously consider purchasing a new vehicle. Among test drive participants, the vast majority claimed the tests would influence their upcoming purchases.

Fun Fact: Despite all the luxury brands available, our post-event survey found that Kia was the most popular brand to test drive. Who knew?

Nineteen different brands offered test-drive facilities directly outside the convention center — in California, there’s no need for indoor test tracks! If you’ve ever wanted to maneuver a Land Rover through an obstacle course in the City of Angels, stop here. For a smoother ride, Toyotas and Cadillacs were also available to test on designated tracks.


Luxury rules. Our numbers consistently show that elite names like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and BMW rank in the top 10 for traffic and attendee enhancement despite having no major activations or gimmicks to attract enthusiasts.

Large and sophisticated exhibits by Toyota, Chevrolet and Ford were most successful at bringing in foot traffic. Playful activations like driving games and VR displays helped them achieve top rankings.

Finally, major brands need to stand out from the masses of activity by bringing exciting stand-alone attractions, in addition to their major displays. The Nissan Star Wars exhibit had an excellent location in the main atrium and its eye-catching design worked to attract guests to the brand’s feature products. Hyundai was another winner, with one in five attendees experiencing the brand’s Racing Challenge driving game.



It was fun to admire the latest and greatest auto exhibits in LA — maybe I’ll see you there next time! I have researched 1000+ events worldwide and love to share stories. Please contact me if you want to discuss anything from visitor surveys to economic impact to sponsorship ROI measurement.

Want to know more about life as an Enigma researcher? Visit us on Linkedin and Facebook.

Best wishes for the holiday season.

Michael, The Event Professor

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Some Events we’ve surveyed:

Beyond Wonderland
Anime Boston
LA X-Games
International Plowing Match
Calgary Stampede
Walt Disney World Florida Classic
Toronto Jazz Festival
Red Bull Flugtag
Edmonton Fringe Festival
NASC Symposium
Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival
Vancouver Film Festival
New York Auto Show
Electric Zoo
Event Marketing Summit
Orlando Bowl Week
US Open of Surfing
Miami Auto Show
Shanghai Storm EDM Festival
Red Bull Air Race
Pacific National Exhibition
Montreal Just for Laughs
Detroit NAIAS
2012 Final Presidential Debate
San Diego County Fair
Dublin Irish Festival
Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival
WWE Summer Slam
Chicago Auto Show
State Fair of Texas
Governor’s Ball Music Festival
Lone Star Rally
Canadian Music Week
Honens International Piano Competition
Pride Toronto