The Tire Industry Association's International Tire Expo (ITE) name-which was in scant sight at the just-concluded trade show in Las Vegas-will disappear completely from all signage and promotions for the 2004 event.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the expo show's owner, said it is trying to simplify the branding of its SEMA/ITE show for attendees outside of the aftermarket industry.
In a separate but related move, in December the Tire Industry Association (TIA) also will be discussing with SEMA the option of changing the name of TIA's World Tire Expo, according to Roy L. Littlefield, TIA's executive vice president. That show, which focuses on commercial dealers, retreaders and tire recyclers, is scheduled for April 20-22, 2005, in Louisville, Ky.
The SEMA Show will be the official name for next year's gathering at Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) in Las Vegas, according to Peter MacGillivray, Diamond Bar-based SEMA's vice president of marketing and communications. The traditional ITE show will be combined with the performance tires and wheels segment to form a newly named section of the SEMA Show: ``Performance Wheels and Tires sponsored by TIA,'' he said.
The name change, along with the combination of the tire and wheel exhibits, is a project SEMA and TIA have been working on for the past year. It's also the reason why the ITE name did not appear on 2003 show literature or on convention signage, Mr. MacGillivray told Tire Business.
Mr. Littlefield said the association has been ``pushing hard'' for this change to the format of the show. The group is working to amend its contract with SEMA to reflect the name change and hall format change.
``That hall is filled with members that are TIA members, yet by segregating us in the back in this ITE section it's almost like we lose our identity,'' Mr. Littlefield said.
``We think this is going to be a very positive move to make the whole hall look like it is a tire hall.''
He and SEMA President and CEO Christopher Kersting both said the groups mutually sat down and agreed that a change needed to be made because some exhibitors affiliated with TIA were leaving the ITE section and exhibiting at the broader tire and wheel section-and that wasn't ``great for TIA.''
Some dealers agree that the ITE section of the convention has gotten lost in the SEMA exhibits.
Paul Bobzin, president of La Canada Tire in La Canada, Calif., said he and other dealers he's talked to feel that it's too bad TIA doesn't have its own show because ``this show is too big and we are lost, and it doesn't apply that much to us.''
Mr. Bobzin, a past president of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, TIA's forerunner, recollected that TIA's contract with SEMA states TIA can't hold any competing trade shows.
If TIA broke that agreement, he said he recalled that the association is bound to a three-year moratorium from holding a consumer tire trade show.
Asked about that contract by Tire Business, Mr. Littlefield would not discuss it, saying it was ``difficult to explain.''
Mr. Bobzin contends TIA's annual trade show has been going in the ``wrong direction for independent tire dealers'' because it's gone from being a tire show to a high-performance tire show. He said he feels SEMA considers TIA's role in the show as ``insignificant'' because SEMA has never invited a TIA member to sit on its board.
``Some (dealers) are in this business and some are not, but very few tire dealers do the heavy-duty stuff,'' Mr. Bobzin said.
``It's not a tire show. It's a high-performance, accessory truck show. It's gotten past our industry. The thing that bothers me is, if SEMA thinks we're so important, why don't they have one of our board members on their board of directors?''
Mr. MacGillivray said it's important for SEMA to support the International Tire Expo as part of its show. Yet the association is also ``challenged'' with attendees outside the industry who are confused by the existence of so many acronyms-SEMA, AAIW, ITE, TIA, and the AAPEX (Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo) show, which is also held simultaneously in Las Vegas as part of the week-long Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week.
``It's confusing for people, so when we sectionalized the show, we also took that opportunity to change our branding strategy,'' Mr. MacGillivray said.
``It's like, listen, let's make SEMA the flagship brand because it already has a lot of equity and momentum behind it, then use the sections of the show to support (the SEMA Show).''
Explaining that the intent of these changes is to raise TIA's profile at the annual event, Mr. MacGillivray emphasized that SEMA wasn't doing away with the International Tire Expo itself-only abandoning the name.
``We've made a change in how we're promoting that section of the show because we really think that it will be better for everyone in the industry if there's one section of the SEMA show where the tire industry is located,'' he said.
When asked why the names didn't change in 2003, Mr. MacGillivray said the language of the associations' contract had not been amended in time before SEMA began the show's promotional campaign. He noted that ITE was a section of the show this year and that SEMA had done some promotions that underscored the ITE name.
``With marketing and branding, you don't want to be changing your name a lot. You want it to be very identifiable and consistent year after year,'' Mr. MacGillivray said, adding that SEMA wants all marketing and promotions to be consistent so that the show's 100,000-plus attendees know what to see and where to go.
When TIA's predecessor, the Tire Association of North America (TANA), merged its show with SEMA in 1997, the group sold ownership rights to its show to SEMA and agreed not to hold any competing conventions.
After TANA merged with the International Tire & Rubber Association to form TIA last year, TIA assumed that contractual agreement, which gives SEMA some management rights to the World Tire Expo, according to TIA President Larry Morgan. Hence, SEMA has a say in changes to the World Tire Expo as well, he said.
Mr. Morgan said TIA wants to change the names of both its shows so that the two events' titles accurately describe what gatherings are taking place at those conventions. He also acknowledged that TIA feels it didn't do a good job of coordinating its marketing efforts with ConvExx, the management group that handled the 2003 World Tire Expo. As a result, this year's World Tire Expo neglected adequate marketing to the commercial tire sector.
TIA wants to reach out more to the commercial tire market during the 2005 trade show in Louisville, he said. No new name for the Expo has been finalized yet, but Mr. Morgan did say that TIA would not lose anything by changing the name because the World Tire Expo has no brand recognition.