December 7, 2006

Airport to Host Mercedes-Benz Promotion

By Cathy Woodruff, Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

Dec. 6--COLONIE -- Albany: It's a Mercedes-Benz kind of town.

That's what officials at Albany International Airport hope some 150 automotive and lifestyle writers from around the world come away thinking after they visit next month.

The visitors, who are expected to include writers for automotive publications and lifestyle magazines focused on topics like food and architecture, will touch down here as part of a Mercedes-Benz promotion for its four-wheel-drive vehicles.

The event is tied to the North American International Auto Show, which will take place in Detroit in early January.

While they're in upstate New York, the writers will be wined and dined at the Whiteface Lodge near Lake Placid. They'll be given keys to luxury vehicles equipped with Mercedes' 4MATIC traction and stability-control system to travel between here and the winter resort region, said Hank Chapman, a road producer for Tom Cotter Management Group, which is organizing the event.

The airport will provide heated storage space for the vehicles in one of its hangars, and all the writers will fly in or out of Albany airport, or both, at some point as part of the junket.

The international name recognition and Olympic history of Lake Placid, and the availability of the new five-star Whiteface Lodge, made it a natural site to treat the trade press and lifestyle writers, Chapman said.

And he said the airport's proximity to Lake Placid, attractive terminal surroundings and relatively simple logistics made it a good choice for moving the media people in and out of the region smoothly.

"The Albany airport is just a nice, neat, clean place," he said. "It's a place we wouldn't feel we have to get the journalists in, blindfold them and get them out quickly."

With any luck, some of the lifestyle writers will find an opportunity to mention Albany positively in some future article -- just as Mercedes hopes its cars will get a plug at some point.

It's a nice opportunity for the Capital Region to show off its airport to a new audience that wouldn't normally see it, Chapman said.

"Let's say Conde Nast does a story next summer about the Hudson River Valley," he said. "Maybe they'll say 'Mercedes-Benz provided a wonderful car.' Maybe they'll say 'Albany has a wonderful airport.'"


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