Jon Munzel founded Thought Leadership Summits (TLS) seven years ago with the goal of developing exclusive events that enable executives to have high-quality interactions with fellow thought leaders. With his background in the automotive industry, Jon quickly recognized the need for a Summit addressing relationships between OEMs, Dealers, Captive Finance providers, and their shared customers.


With that in mind, Jon launched the Automotive Customer Centricity Summit in 2005. Every year since, the Summit has addressed important strategic issues within the automotive industry, such as OEM and Dealer CRM, lead management, collaborative marketing, and customer lifecycle management. In 2010, with social media emerging to provide new channels of customer interaction, Jon added the Automotive Social Media Summit, and created the Automotive Summit Series.


“I started TLS after being involved with a lot of events that had little value due to their large scale and lack of quality — both from a content and participation aspect. Our goal is to develop and execute Summits that deliver value to our constituents by creating an intimate environment where senior-level executives are able to make true connections with one another, discussing their shared challenges and successes,” Jon said.


After the 2010 Automotive Social Media Summit, it was clear from delegate feedback that social media was a topic diverse enough to warrant a full-day agenda. While social media is a key aspect of customer centricity, it is also being used in many other areas of the industry. Jon said, “It made sense to expand the Social Media Summit but keep it linked to the Customer Centricity Summit. Doing so allows executives responsible for one or both of these strategic areas to seek out the exact content they need.”


About the Automotive Social Media Summit

The Automotive Social Media Summit is the auto industry’s only Summit focused exclusively on social media. In 2011, the theme is “Multi-Task Like a Millennial – Leveraging Multiple Media Simultaneously.” The Summit will focus on the challenge of leveraging the still-new “established” social media while also learning about emerging technologies to ensure that both OEMs and Dealers maintain full coverage across the wide spectrum of social media.


“I’ve been on the agenda of both the Automotive Customer Centricity Summit and the Automotive Social Media Summit before, and look forward to speaking again this year,” said Gary Marcotte, Senior Vice President of Marketing at AutoNation. “I really appreciate that TLS is executing a different model that offers high-quality engagement and creates real value for their delegates, as that’s exactly what we’re focused on doing for our customers at AutoNation. I’ve always had a really positive experience and am looking forward to participating in the Summit again in June.”


Topics will include:

  • AutoNation’s success creating customer engagement
  • DARCARS’ social media strategy
  • Ford’s “Focus: Rally America” program
  • Hyundai of St. Augustine’s reputation management
  • Volvo’s use of social media to connect with Millennials
  • Nissan’s strategies to ensure a consistent brand image

The keynote address will come from Tamara Darvish, the Vice President of DARCARS Automotive. Her presentation will review the strategy DARCARS has developed to address the challenge of the explosion of different social media and how DARCARS plans to leverage social media to improve collaboration with OEMs, their own personnel, and most importantly — their customers.


The Summit will also have a follow-up presentation from the 2010 keynote speaker, Gary Marcotte, Senior Vice President of Marketing at AutoNation. Gary will return to inform the delegates if AutoNation has successfully used social media to engage with their customers, and if this has helped them reach their goal of developing true customer loyalty.


Also featured on the agenda is Jeff Eggen, Experiential Marketing Manager at Ford. His presentation will discuss how to “Break Through” and gain exposure by combining the power of reality TV, social media, and online gaming. Jeff will explain how Ford’s “Focus Rally America” attracted millions of consumers to ride along on a five-week “virtual test drive” in the new Ford Focus. He’ll also provide the results that demonstrate how this groundbreaking program not only built mass awareness of a new product, but also drove deep program engagement, product advocacy, and consumer sharing.


The full agenda for the Automotive Social Media Summit agenda features the following executives:

  • Elizabeth Barrera, IT Director — Ancira Enterprises
  • Gary Marcotte, Senior Vice President, Marketing — AutoNation
  • Tamara Darvish, Vice President — DARCARS
  • Doug Frisbie, Automotive Strategist — Facebook
  • Jeff Eggen, Experiential Marketing Manager — Ford
  • Thilo Koslowski, Vice President & Lead Automotive Analyst — Gartner
  • Andrew DiFeo, General Manager — Hyundai of St. Augustine
  • Monica Peterson, Digital Marketing Manager — Lexus
  • Don Foy, Executive Director — Manheim
  • Robert Brown, Senior Manager, Social Media Marketing — Nissan
  • Linda Gangeri, Manager, National Advertising — Volvo


To learn more about the Automotive Social Media Summit, hosted by Thought Leadership Summits, visit or call 720-287-0145.