Most major auto makers drew in crowds with games, tests drives, and free tote bags. Totes were given away to carry all the random ads and flyers and brochures of cars and their features. Some reps wanted to get some information from you before rewarding you with a tote, others just threw them on tables and let people grab as many as they pleased.It seemed most people were drawn in by the giveaway or booth promising a test drive, rather than the car on display.
Dodge had a line wrapped around an indoor track that offered visitors a ride in one of their vehicles. The car would wait behind a gate until it was signaled in, then it sped off and quickly stopped, showing off the quick pick up of each car. A crowd gathered around the line hoping to catch a free shirt or hat from the reps entertaining the long line of eager people. Don’t want to wait in the line? Head over to their booth and fill out a form so that a dealer can contact you about their fleet of vehicles. Your information is worth a nifty little flashlight or a Dodge beanie. Totes were available, but required more work than they were worth.
Ford lured people in with a free raffle every hour, but people must be present in order to win their prize. It seemed simple enough, just write your name on a small piece of paper and show up for the drawing. But first, Ford wanted to talk to you about the 2017 F-150 Raptor, the presentation took about 15 minutes or so and then a name was drawn to win an oversized plush toy.
Henry the robot was also a nice touch to Ford, the robot who was controlled by a rep behind the scenes, cracked jokes and entertained the crowds with mini quizzes and witty remarks. The automaker also had a driving simulator, but for those who want the real deal, tests drives were offered right outside McCormick place. Don’t forget to pick up a free tote or two.
Toyota had a prize dispenser that rewarded you for using their hashtag on Instagram. Just snap a picture and post it and a machine kindly thanks you and give you a random prize – I got a cardholder. Their totes were available at a mini kiosk, no sign up or humoring required. They too, had an indoor track for people who wanted to get a ride in one of their 2017 models. Reps pick up passengers and drove them around a small course that highlighted their different safety features and smooth driving.
They were supposed to have a simulator and Oculus Rift technology, maybe it was on select days because aimless wandering resulted in neither to be found.
Camp Jeep was one of the more impressive obstacle courses that drove over steep hills and rugged dirt tracks made to look like the great outdoors. While waiting in line, less than enthusiastic reps handed out drawstring bags to distracted visitors.
Most of the 2017 vehicles on display were unlocked, which allowed people to play with some features and touch the interior leather and custom trim. Other vehicles sat on glossy platforms or behind velvet ropes where curious hands were out of reach.
Other booths included:
- Shell the gas company: car enthusiasts can spin a wheel to win some savings at the pump with discount cards (no totes).
- State Farm: offered a lounge and a brief informational session about their services along with prizes. Fill out a short questionnaire and receive a card that revealed a prize for participating. Most people walked away with a tote bag, but a lucky few won: Beats headphones, Bose speaker, or phone charger that can jump-start a car battery.
- Chicago Blackhawks: fans had the opportunity to meet the Ice Girls and sign up and win a limited edition Blackhawks Camero along with posters, rally towels, drawstring bags and more.
If you are interested in actually buying a car, reps are available to talk to you about financing and leasing options. For those not willing to humor the sales representatives, pamphlets and informational booklets were scattered across desks and kiosks to fill your totes. Most opted to leave them behind and enjoy looking at just looking at cars while collecting freebies.