German automakers did well getting the attention of reporters and editors during the top four U.S. auto shows this year.
Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW finished in the top 10 in terms of media coverage during the Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York auto shows.
Yet they ranked No. 20, 23 and 22, respectively, in terms of sales in the U.S. automotive market last year.
'Volkswagen had something really special (the New Beetle) to break through,' says Mark Weiner, vice president of research at media research firm MediaLink of Norwalk, Conn.
The rankings are the results of an analysis by MediaLink of the effectiveness of automakers' marketing efforts at auto shows.
Weiner says good press leads to more sales. 'In the auto industry,' he says, 'public relations have a greater impact than other industries because journalists can make recommendations.'
MediaLink measured the frequency of auto show coverage in print, broadcast, trade and consumer media for 37 nameplates. Fifteen major markets were analyzed.
'Splash always plays a part in news coverage of special marketing events like auto shows,' says Weiner. 'But as the dust settles, it seems Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Chevrolet kept pace with VW.'
Only two nameplates' coverage matched their 1997 sales. Ford was first in both categories, and Toyota was fourth.