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One Word Describes the Detroit Auto Show - Exhilarating!

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After 6 long hours of driving from Milwaukee, we pulled into downtown Detroit as the sun was setting. We circled the ice skating pond in the center of the city and passed the Hard Rock Café on the way to our hotel. The Westin Book Cadillac proved to be a nice choice as it was only three blocks from the Cobo Center – the location of the North American International Auto Show.

The Detroit Auto Show is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world. New car launches, concept cars and displays of the automakers vehicles fill up the convention center. Up to two months of design and build go into creating the perfect exhibit for each of the cars on display.

Some of this year’s interesting displays were: the newly designed Corvette Stingray - mounted on a wall looked fast standing still. The auto show is just the place you'd expect to find the world's fastest man's car - Usain Bolt’s Nissan GT-R was spinning behind a roped section. The fabulous Lincoln MKZ glistened in its glass enclosure. The displays were eye-catching, impressive and fun.


The product specialists fronting the vehicles turned out to be models and actors who received extensive training and driving time on the various vehicles. The displays were great, but we wanted to know how the automakers marketed to African American men. If in design and functionality, what considerations are given to the interests of specific ethnic groups? In this case, our questions were specific to African American men. Most of the product specialists could explain features and enhancements but could not answer this question.

As it turns out, most automotive marketing is lifestyle marketing – marketing that appeals to activities, interests and opinions of people. Not the race or culture of the target audience. Automakers design their cars focused more on their ideas of what their cars bring to the marketplace.

Mazda targets people who are interested in value and fun. Chrysler is focused on marketing their brand rather than individual models, and that seems to be a huge success.

Do automakers market differently to ethnic groups? It appears not, but according to a study by Strategic Vision on how new vehicles address cultural distinctions, perhaps they should.

African Americans who are potential new car buyers have expectations and needs similar to the rest of the industry, but they have distinctive values and emotions on security, freedom, esteem and balance. Knowing this can help dealers deliver a better experience by responding to pride of ownership and individuality in the personal touches.

This same Strategic Vision study found that Nissan, and in particular, the Altima, ranked highest among African American new car buyers. Other top models were the Honda Civic, Mercedes E-Class, Nissan Titan, and Cadillac SRX.

All in all, you will find the auto show to be an enjoyable and informative adventure. When you find the vehicle that strikes your fancy and the salesperson responds by appealing to pride and individuality, then everyone wins.

We searched high and low for my favorite, the Dodge Viper, and finally found it in the Mopar area. It was bright yellow with beautiful lines and power under the hood just waiting to be exercised!

To read more about the Detroit Auto Show, visit

Cindy Wendland is a web designer, writer and the Creative Director of Brain Brawn & Body.

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Cindy Wendland is a web designer, writer and creative director of Brain Brawn & Body. You can contact Cindy at


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Guest Sunday, 25 February 2018