MIAMI -- Nissan had the spotlight to itself when it unveiled the 2017 Rogue this month on the muggy eve of the Miami International Auto Show.
Instead of waiting until the next day to launch at the Miami Beach Convention Center -- or one of the traditional big-name shows -- Nissan picked the luxurious 1111 Lincoln Road parking structure overlooking the city for a private gathering of press and excited dealers. They saw the next iteration of one of the brand's top-selling nameplates.
Nissan's decision to have its own event for the Rogue was a strategic play that broadened the compact crossover's exposure and gave it a platform to itself.
It was the star of the evening -- with no competitors in sight.
"Auto shows are really nice, and we're very committed, and we're going to have great activity there, but more and more, we also want to call special attention from the press and even customers by organizing events where we can stand out and we can show our product a little more deeply than when you see them with so many vehicles [at an auto show]," Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz told Automotive News after the Rogue's unveiling. "We'll be in both places."
Nissan's effort to grab headlines with a solo launch event shows how automakers increasingly are weighing alternatives to the major international auto shows. Those shows are still a prime place to reveal vehicles, but organizers acknowledge that they face increased competition for launches -- a trend accentuated by several automakers skipping this week's Paris show.
Display costs that can run over $1 million, crowded press conference calendars and product cadences sometimes push automakers elsewhere. Niche events such as the Texas State Fair and the Consumer Electronics Show for trucks and high-tech models, respectively, have gained importance in recent years.
Launch parties on the eves of shows represent a compromise solution. Buick, for example, has turned the Sunday before the Detroit auto show's press days into a playground for bold concepts, showing the Avenir in 2015 and Avista in 2016. Mercedes-Benz got a jump on the competition in Detroit as well this year when it unwrapped the 2017 E class on the same day as Buick's unveiling.
Although automakers don't hesitate to throw their own launch parties before shows to generate as much hype as possible going into press days, show organizers across the country feel their roles as product springboards are secure. While brands see value in debuting new products before press days -- and even outside show season throughout the year -- they say it's good to diversify their launch strategies using auto shows and special events.
Chevrolet, which uncovered the high-profile 2016 Camaro in May 2015 at Detroit's Belle Isle Park, says auto shows and extracurricular launch activities can work as a marketing tandem.
"Auto shows are an important platform in helping Chevrolet both publicize new products and promote our brand. Utilizing auto shows and outside events are not either-or propositions however," Chevrolet said in a statement to Automotive News. "When used in concert, they can be powerful approaches to reaching our audience and achieving positive brand opinion."