This year's Chicago Auto Show, open to the public from February 13 to 22, will see nearly 1,000 cars spread across 1.3 million square feet of McCormick Place. Among the displays will be Smart USA's Smart ForTwo vehicles, appearing at the show for the first time.
"We launched the [Smart ForTwo] cars in 2008, and now we have a year under our belts," said Ken Kettenbeil, director of communications at Smart USA. "We've had time to build up great staff and resources, and now we're ready to exhibit."
In preparation for the event, Kettenbeil and his team brainstormed ways to give Auto Show attendees a meaningful, interactive experience with their vehicles. "We realized that the show would open to the public around Valentine's Day weekend," he said. "So we liked the idea of a dating scenario. Also, our cars only seat two people—they're kind of tailor made for couples."
After researching local dating agencies, the Smart USA crew decided to partner with speed-dating company Date and Dash for a promotional event on Saturday afternoon. During 24-minute stretches, eight local singles will rotate between four Smart ForTwo models parked on the Auto Show floor. In each car, participants will conduct six-minute speed dates while other show attendees look on and local radio personality Pete McMurray acts as the M.C.
To attract participants for the event—there will ultimately be about 80—Date and Dash sent an e-mail blast to its database of approximately 30,000 members. Those who preregistered became eligible to win the use of a Smart ForTwo car for one night, along with dinner for two at NoMi.