Plus, there's tons of free swag.
Seriously, with all of the tote bags that the manufacturers hand out every year, we haven't had to buy a reusable grocery bag in three years. Instead, Toyota, Ford, KIA, etc. all get free advertising while I do my shopping at Aldi. It's not just tote bags though; this year, I also ended up with pens, stickers, coupons for Chicago street parking, a deck of cards and my own, custom baseball card:
Yup, this year, the Chevrolet, the official vehicle of Major League Baseball had a photo booth set-up in order to create custom trading cards for show-goers. I found one of these customs, lost and trampled on the sidewalk, while we were making our way up to McCormick Place and I instantly knew where our first stop was going to be. What can I say? I'm just a giant man-child. Also, I'm nowhere near as intimidating of a mound presence as Randy Johnson, try though I may. I only wish that I had opted to wear my Cubs jersey that morning, instead of a beat up, old Sex Pistols t-shirt.
Apparently, Topps was in on this game as well; as you can see, their logo appears on the upper right corner of my card.
The backside of these cards featured a boilerplate advertisement for Chevrolet; thus, their incentive for printing up these free goodies. After all, they do now have a permanent advertisement in my baseball card collection, so I can't say that this was a bad idea by their creative team. Not that Chevrolet truly needs to worry about brand penetration, anyway.
As quality of the giveaways, they were instantly printed onto thin cardstock (slightly thicker than normal computer paper, but not much), with perforated edges for quick separation. In other words, about what you'd expect for something you didn't have to pay so much as a penny to obtain.
Here's a peak behind the curtain, as they ushered me in front of a green screen for my closeup. Just off camera, there was a shelving unit and some bins filled with sporting equipment to use as props - I didn't just show up randomly with my own glove, after all. In addition to baseball, other options included soccer, basketball, something else that I can't remember (probably football), and Batman... yup, Batman.
As you can plainly see, my wife opted to go the Batman route. The day after our little excursion to the Auto Show, The Lego Batman movie was due to open in theaters, nationwide; therefore, they were promoting their film hardcore and, apparently, Chevy was a sponsorship partner. In addition to their offering of Batman customs, they also had a full-scale replica of the Batmobile made entirely out of Lego bricks and the opportunity to construct your own mini-model. In short, they were heavy on the Batman.
Also, I just have to say, The Lego Batman movie was absolutely hilarious and, if you're a fan of the Batman franchise or superhero movies in general, you need to see it.
A rule that my wife obviously believes in.
Now, as I mentioned, there were countless other giveaways, freebies and swag items strewn throughout the various manufacturer stations. Unfortunately, there were no more trading cards to be found on the show floor, but there were some similar items.
One of the major draws for me at this event is the inclusion of race cars in some of the displays. Most of my early teen years were spent watching NASCAR races religiously every Sunday and any other form of motorsport I could find on TV. Furthermore, to this day, I still make it out to Indianapolis every May to take in time trials for the Indy 500. Cubs baseball might be my favorite sport, but auto racing is definitely high on my list as well.
Therefore, I couldn't help but stop to fawn over the rallycross Beetle (driven by Scott Speed) at the Volkswagen spaces and the NHRA Top Fuel dragster (piloted by Tony Schumacher) that was part of the U.S. Army display. Unfortunately, I did forget to snap pictures of these impressive examples of automotive and racing innovation; but, I was lucky enough to score the above Speed decal and Schumacher hero card, gratis. I don't know what I'm going to do with them, but they were cool and free, so...
Anyway, that about sums up our experience at the Chicago Auto Show in 2017. We saw some impressive automobiles, dodged and dived through thick crowds, ate some junk food, got tons of free swag and, most importantly, got our faces emblazoned on our very own baseball cards. I'd certainly call that a successful afternoon.
Custom baseball cards at the Auto Show... life is just full of surprises.