2014 SEMA Show and SEMA Ignited

SEMA News—January 2015

CHRIS KERSTING

2014 SEMA Show and SEMA Ignited

Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO It will be no surprise to those who attended: The 2014 SEMA Show bounced off the rev limiter like a street machine on nitrous, posting historic levels of attendance, exhibitor numbers and total footprint. Growth is good, but the key measure of success will always be to create a comprehensive marketplace where quality exhibitors can do business with quality buyers. In that regard, it seems that the 2014 Show served well as a springboard for success for most in the industry in the coming year.

As usual, we’ll be doing research to quantify what worked and what is changing as well as soliciting new ideas and ways to improve. To those of you who returned our post-Show survey, we extend our sincerest thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments.

There will be a lot to study. The list of new and innovative Show features is lengthy, but the most significant would be SEMA Ignited—our first-ever industry/consumer event.

Going into Ignited, we had lots of ideas but a very short ramp-up time. Our goals were simple: to establish a new platform to build consumer excitement and awareness, and to create a new value center for SEMA Show exhibitors by helping them leverage the assets they bring to the Show.

We’re thrilled that so many in the industry picked up on the value proposition. More than 500 SEMA Show vehicles were displayed in the event, and 168 vehicles were entered in the Battle of the Builders competition that culminated at Ignited. Congratulations to Kyle Tucker and his ’69 Chevy Camaro for taking top honors! We also provided burgers and beer to more than 5,400 industry members at the Industry Reception.

The consumer turnout for this first-time event was outstanding. Perhaps most importantly, the media coverage and social-media interest greatly exceeded expectations; analytics show #SEMAIgnited generated more than 2.5 million impressions between Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in just five days following the event. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see the results of the print coverage, but at least three popular television shows were taping that night, including “Car Crazy,” “Overhaulin’” and the new SEMA-sponsored prime-time special, “SEMA Battle of the Builders,” which will be broadcast on the Velocity Channel in mid-March. These programs will reach millions of viewers nationwide.

On a related matter, by creating the Battle of the Builders competition, we now have a way to showcase the work of some of the most original thinkers in the industry, great designers, fabricators and craftspeople that they are. The cars, the personalities and the back stories make compelling content that should help us build on our goal of popularizing car culture more widely.

All in all, there were many successes for SEMA Ignited, but we are also working on reviewing the problems and challenges to improve the event for the future. We now have a full year to work out the kinks and make adjustments—and to let the industry know what it can expect for next year’s second edition. We saw a strong proof of concept and an eagerness among the industry to help create this consumer-facing addition to the SEMA Show.

There is much work to do to make SEMA Ignited 2015 everything it can be. We lit the fuse this year. We’re looking forward to working with the industry to see SEMA Ignited reach its full potential.

—Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO 

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