Delhi Auto Expo 2012 failure and chaos: Indian auto show fails because everything that can go wrong did go wrong

The 2012 Delhi Auto Expo, which most would have thought is an ideal platform to showcase cars, vehicles, and concepts has obviously gone terribly wrong. For starters, the auto show jointly organized by Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) have collectively failed. The CII was wholly in charge of registration and distribution of media passes. Barring a few passes that made it to Gate 1 on the concerned day, the remainder of the passes weren’t printed or registered. The saving grace here was the executives from Mavcomm Consulting Pvt. Ltd., who worked tirelessly to pacify irate media, and arrange for day passes for those left in the lurch. Of course this in no way justifies the multiple trips many had to make to Pragati Maidan to find a solution.

Sudden growth of auto media: I have never seen so many auto media personnel, and I’m sure I never will. At first glance, one would think this has got to be a successful event considering the media coverage it managed to garner. Funny thing is we’d really like to know who verified these media passes. Apart from the regular media faces that we can identify there were more strangers than media. Talking about media etiquette, too many at the event had no clue about cars, and what was being launched. Their focus wasn’t on the vehicle that was going to be unveiled, but on the media kit. What seriously needs to be done is identification and passing on information where it will really be used. If you put a press release in the media kit, and a bunch of hooligans resort to a mob attack because they want freebies, it’s the press release that gets lost. So, what on earth are we supposed to write about because now I have no immediate access to technical specifications?

New car/vehicle media kit distribution: The auto market is supposed to be a competitive field, not one that fails miserably. The 2012 Delhi Auto Expo has opened up many questions regarding just how hired PR for an event works. Hiring painted faces for the reception desk can work wonders for you provided they have some grey cells a little higher up. If not, it’s a disaster. Sample dialog: Do you have the press release with you? Smile. Excuse me, do you have the press release with you? Smile, yes we will be giving it to the media. Great, so, can I have it? Actually, we don’t have any now. My stunned expression.

Appears they ran out of media kits and the dimwits put the all important paper in there. Look, I don’t need the press kit, I only need a press release. We don’t have any hard copies. We’re getting more in sometime. How long will that take? In half an hour. Alright I don’t have that much time cause there’s another launch, so, will you please email the release to this id rightaway. Alright. Truth is I’m still waiting for those press releases. Actually I’m not. I don’t care so much now. However for those who really want the information you will always find it discarded next to the closest wall, so, that works.

SIAM allocation of stalls to carmakers: SIAM apparently gives you stalls that you can adorn and call your own for the duration of the Auto Show. If you’re already certain of footfalls above 30,000 a day, then throwing in a few auto majors together does not work. If the corridor between Skoda and Audi is about 7 feet, and thousands of people are going to walk through at peak time, it’s not going to work because people are banging into each other.

Celebrity endorsements: Dear Katrina Kaif you maybe the most downloaded wallpaper Bollywood actor, but being a special guest for Audi at the 2012 Delhi Auto Show was a clear mistake. I’m sure you get a very high remuneration for this but it could lead to a serious stampede situation. Imagine a situation where media personnel die because the situation was uncontrollable. Dear Audi, if this is a media launch, you do realize we don’t need to see a celeb, but simply your cars. The media arena is so tiny that most can’t really see the car because the video staff is positioned closest to the celeb. Big mistake.

VIP, VIP VIP: Most certainly India is still living in a hypothetical British Raj because the celebrity and VIP is the king. Who determines a VIP? And how can there be so many VIP’s. How on earth is a loud, unruly someone someone’s son a VIP? Blah blah, the list is endless. Car manufacturers don’t really have the right to usher in delegates and VIP’s if you’re calling it media day. And after you call them, you forget to cater to the media, and are taking these so called important people on car tours. They don’t understand jack. What they see is a logo, and maybe some of them can recognize one from another. At the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo, while the media was supposed to have access to vehicles, staff at certain carmakers pavilions was literally trying to sell cars.

CII distribution of passes to what we believe anyone and everyone: In their quest to make the 2012 Delhi Auto Show a success, there was blatant boosting of footfalls. Conversations overheard include how random people have at least twenty passes. So, what do they do? Call more random people. End of the day, I hardly go to say goodbye to the auto media people because quite literally random people had swallowed that fast thinning group. If you want to show the auto world how great the Indian auto show is resort to world class events, infrastructure, and better planning. The results will be overwhelming because the Indian auto market is really growing. There is no way a false show of crowds can put the 2012 Delhi Auto Show on the same platform as other successful motor shows.

Media vehicles: Not that Pragati Maidan is the biggest of grounds but it isn’t too small either. The media vehicle drivers were obviously on a holiday, and at the end of the day I don’t blame them because it’s impossible to make way between chaotic random very important crowds that walk into a pavilion and wonder which company it is. This apart, Pragati Maidan transformed into a fairground of sorts, not a very friendly one though, and traffic outside the venue refused to move for hours.

What did work was the approach that Ford, Fiat, Jaguar Land Rover, and Bajaj followed. If you perceive a situation that can be difficult to handle, opt for a launch at a private venue before the Auto Show. Auto companies that did have a successful media showcasing include Harley Davidson, Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes. However, Mercedes Benz did have a major flaw. Four celebrities, and again no scope for media to get upfront because of so called VIP guests. The only reason nobody fainted was because Mercedes Benz has the biggest pavilion at the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo. And because it’s all about cars, we did still smile at the end of these chaos filled days for the great number of cars, bikes and concepts we saw, especially the MINI Cooper and VW Beetle.

Click here to see bit by bit updates and images from the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo right from 5th Jan 2012.