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Chicago Auto Show


The TrueLook cameras have been extremely successful. Everyone loves them. We receive comments from people all over the world who want to see what is going on at the world’s biggest auto show.” – Paul Brian, Director of Communications for Chicago Automobile Trade Association



The Chicago Auto Show was first presented in 1901 to an enthusiastic crowd of 4,000 who knew little of the “horseless carriage.” The success of that show, against mighty odds, was considered tremendous. Today manufacturers from around the world consider the Chicago Auto Show as North America’s most significant consumer exposition. The automobile become a mainstay of American business and society, and the Chicago Auto Show has kept pace with this remarkable growth. The 105th show in February 2013 covered an astonishing 1.2 million square feet. Automotive enthusiasts were able to view nearly 1,000 different vehicles from the top manufacturers, including introductions of never-before-seen vehicles.


The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) sought to expand the reach and impact of its yearly trade show. The auto show searched for new ways to increase the number of exhibitors and attendees year after year. Hence, the CATA is always on the lookout for unique and effective ways to promote and manage the Chicago Auto Show to continue their strong growth and respected ranking as an industry leader.


In 2002 the CATA decided to install TrueLook two cameras on the tradeshow floor. The cameras were set up three weeks prior to the opening date of the show to manage the installation process. Organizers were able to keep close tabs on the progress of the installation from a bird’s-eye view, giving them an overall picture that couldn’t have been achieved by walking the floor. The cameras were promoted on the Chicago Auto Show website (www.chicagoautoshow.com), allowing the public to view live images from the show.


In the first year, over 80,000 people viewed close to 1.3 million live TrueLook images from the Chicago Auto Show. In the last 10 years, 369,000 unique users have visited the webcams nearly 6.5 million times. These users have viewed 9.4 million images from the cameras. This means that, on average, each user returns to the webcams 17 times and views over 25 images. That level of engagement indicates serious interest in the webcams, and demonstrates that the auto show remains top of mind for its web visitors.

With TrueLook, users actually control the live telerobotic cameras using their mouse without the need to install any new software or plug-ins. Users can zoom in to see tremendous detail of car interiors and engines. Best of all, that control is simultaneously shared by multiple users – even thousands at a time – yet each user sees exactly what they want to see and has a unique personal experience without time limits, waiting in line or interruptions by other users.

“Anyone who takes a peek on the camera, couldn’t help but be drawn to want to go down to McCormick to see it live. The realities of logistics obviously come into play that make it hard from some people to attend, but the second best thing to being there is taking a look using the five cameras around 1.2 million square feet of showroom floor.”
– Paul Brian, Director of Communications

Viewers can then save their images to photo albums with their comments. Thousands of images have been stored by automobile enthusiasts every year and remain available year round on the Chicago Auto Show website providing unique and intriguing visual content.

TrueLook’s patented LIVECards are also very popular, which enables users to capture photos and email them to friends and colleagues. The image in the email links the recipient directly back to the live camera in the same location as the picture was taken so they can explore the show for themselves. CATA mines these email addresses for emarketing campaigns promoting future show dates.

Exhibitors and sponsors also gained more marketing exposure through the webcams. Rather than limiting themselves to foot traffic on the show floor, exhibitors were able to share their displays with the world. Show sponsors and advertisers sharing the cameras’ webpage saw significantly more eyeballs. The increased reach on the internet added more value for the show’s business partners and exhibitors.

“Besides reaching people who are interested in the show from an enthusiast standpoint, we have also found significant business advantages in the usage of the TrueLook cameras. Car manufacturers, whether based in Bloomington, IL, Strutgart or Tokyo can all go on the web and see the incredible throngs of people attending the show and see first-hand the traffic their display is getting—or could get in the future if they exhibited at the show.”
– Paul Brian, Director of Communications

Setting up 1.2 million square feet of space with close to 50 major manufacturers requires a very detailed move-in schedule where every minute counts. Show organizers and exhibitors alike immediately saw the value in using the TrueLook cameras during the show’s installation. CATA staff was able to monitor the move-in process and found they were able to react more quickly to the need to alter an exhibit’s scheduled move-in time. Exhibit managers on the other side of the world were able to monitor the show floor over the Internet, providing them with a unique and cost effective method of directing their staff through the set up of their exhibit.

The show organizers have also used TrueLook’s scheduled shot feature to create a time-lapsed movie of the move-in process. They then use it as a unique marketing tool to demonstrate the attention to detail throughout the installation process as they recruit new manufactures to exhibit.