SEMA News—October 2011

The SEMA Award: Vehicles of Opportunity

    Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO  
The SEMA Show exists for one core purpose: to help grow sales for our member businesses. At last year’s Show, we introduced “The SEMA Award: Hottest Vehicles of the Show” to help drive consumer interest in our industry’s innovative and outstanding products. The SEMA Award does this by honoring the models that industry experts—the SEMA Show exhibitors—most often feature in their booths as the hottest rides for the enthusiast market. Media coverage of SEMA Award winners last year was such a success that we wanted to share more about what the award really means and why we have even higher goals for it in its second year.

Each year in November, thousands of products and hundreds of project vehicles materialize under one roof at the SEMA Show, as exhibitors debut customized versions of the cars they think are most likely to generate new business. The cars and trucks on display become a kind of a poll, indicating models that exhibitors believe are the hottest for highlighting their products and brands. These vehicles are counted at the Show, and the SEMA Award honors those models most often chosen by exhibitors—the top enthusiast prospects for the coming year.

The SEMA Award pulled down significant media interest last year, with coverage in more than 1,400 media outlets, including both hard copy and social media. SEMA staff has built some strong tools to help link the SEMA Award to specific product information from exhibiting manufacturers offering products for SEMA Award contenders.

To put a spotlight on the program, vehicle-specific content pages will be created featuring SEMA Award category winners and runners up. These online pages will promote products from the Show and many of the booth and feature vehicles on display, making it easy for Mustang or Camaro owners, for example, to easily find exactly what interests them.

These pages will be promoted through direct outreach to media, including community and forum websites, in SEMA eNews, our social media channels, in SEMA News as a glossy print story, and targeted print and online advertising.

The 2010 SEMA Award honored the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford F-Series and Jeep Wrangler. At the 2011 SEMA Show, we’ll be adding another category to identify the Hottest Sport Compact car. Once again, the SEMA Award scoring team will fan out across the Show floor and into every hall to hand count the vehicle models presented in the exhibitor’s displays. We’ll announce the winners at a press conference first thing Tuesday morning.

This year’s contenders include last year’s winners plus the current generation of cars, such as the Ford Mustang, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Subaru Impreza WRX. The field will be enhanced by all-new ’12 model-year candidates, such as the Chevrolet Cruze, the Hyundai Veloster, the Scion iQ, the FIAT 500 and the Honda Civic.

Who will win? That depends on the vehicle selections made by hundreds of exhibiting companies. One thing is for sure: Whether the winning models happen to be all new or repeat winners from 2010, our industry’s customized versions of those cars will be completely original and innovative and will inspire enthusiast interest everywhere. The ability to restyle, update, repower and explore new ideas—that’s the unique capability and passion of the specialty-equipment industry.

As you read this, the industry is working hard to make it happen. Come November 1, we’ll see how it all turns out.

—Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO

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