linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!


  Auto Ads Drive Brand Awareness   Auto Ads Drive Brand Awareness  Edwin Colyer  
Auto Ads Drive Brand Awareness [Please note: We occasionally receive inquiries regarding this article because it shows up high on certain Google searches. However, we do not have any information for readers looking to offer their cars for advertising. Please do not contact brandchannel on this issue.]

We all like the idea of money for nothing. So when someone offers to pay you to drive your own car, you can hardly refuse. Of course, you have to let them cover your car in advertising, but that's all. You simply get on with your life and take the cash.

We've probably all seen these cars on the highway. Indeed, you can hardly miss them with their startling colors and logos. And this is exactly why consumer companies are starting to take car advertising seriously. It is new, it is noticeable and it gets the brand to places where traditional media fail to reach—the residential street, the workplace, the school.

Michael Lyons established his AdsOnCars service in the UK a little over a year ago. “This is a relatively new idea and the market is just developing thanks to a combination of technological advance and organic growth,” he says. “The technology allows us to print onto vinyl sheets and wrap them around cars. Everyone will have seen taxis with this kind of advertising on them—we see the wrapping of privately owned cars as a natural extension of this.”

Lyons argues that advertising on cars is a highly cost effective medium. Studies put the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) at around 40p in the UK, compared to £1.20 for roadside advertisements, £5 for newspaper ads and nearly £20 for direct mailing (£1 = US$1.82, €1.48). Moreover, these figures only include drivers who see the wrapped cars, not the hundreds of pedestrians who notice them too.

“If it is done correctly people don't only see these cars,” notes Lyons, “they actually stop and stare and talk about it later. On your trip to work you may pass a hundred posters. But if you see a wrapped car I'll wager that will be what you remember. Yes, it gets noticed because it is novel, but without a doubt it is an advertising medium that is here to stay.”

Edie Michelson, who runs Ads2Go in St. Louis, Missouri, agrees. “Advertisers have to fight for eyes and ears and a morsel of your time. Here there is no battle. Viewers want to read the signs. Sometimes in a parking lot people will actually walk out of their way to read what is on a car.”

Instead of wrapping cars in vinyl, Michelson simply asks drivers to stick magnetic signs on their cars as they drive around. “Business owners know that messages on vehicles are a good way of communicating with people. Now small businesses no longer have to have a fleet of their own—I provide the fleet and drivers!”

The business model for car sponsorship is simple. Agencies like AdsOnCars or Ads2Go have built up a database of potential drivers, recruited via word of mouth or from having seen sponsored cars on the road. They collect information about the car, the individual's driving patterns and other personal data, like whether they have children for instance. The amount of information available gives advertisers a good idea of the sorts of drivers available.

This is where it gets really cunning: advertisers can choose drivers that match their target audience. They can choose people who fit with their brand. “The driver is also the consumer,” says Lyons. “The driver is happy with the brand and the brand is happy with the driver. And the driver becomes a brand ambassador.”

Does Carol Ann Kneznekoff, one of Michelson's drivers, feel like an ambassador? “I was a little embarrassed at first to have my car covered in signs. Everyone was looking at me as I drove—I thought I must look really good until I realized they were staring at the signs. But I was comfortable with the companies I was advertising. One was a hot dog place, which we use as a family, and I was happy to answer people's questions about it when they asked. People had lots of questions about the ads.”

“This kind of advertising brings the brand closer to consumers in a new way,” says Lyons. “There is a direct relationship established between the brand and the consumer. The brand is physically taken to places where it is not normally seen, like the supermarket or the gym. But the brand is also getting the endorsement of the consumer who drives the car. That's probably the best sort of promotion a brand could want among the driver's like-minded friends, family and colleagues.”

Michelson says that one of her clients is a dry cleaning company. They targeted drivers who play sports and would have to wash dirty kit. The car would sit in the parking lot and be seen by all the other sports people too.

Naturally, there is an element of risk. What happens when the driver behaves “off brand”? After all, drivers don't go through a rigorous brand training and awareness workshop. “We have discussed this with various clients,” Lyons explains. “The process we follow helps to eliminate the risk. All the people on our database have never been banned or caught drunk driving and they all have less than six points on their license. The lifestyle information we have also helps clients to target the right kind of person. We can't be hundred percent sure of what the driver is doing, but we do have the facility to remove the ad at any point and we do monthly checks too.” AdsOnCars also offers GPS tracking of vehicles.

“Some of this is about having faith in the consumer, but it is no different really than Vodafone sponsoring Manchester United and having their name on all the shirts worn by fans. They have no controls about the behavior of people who wear the shirts but they still manage to get the message out,” says Lyons.

“My philosophy is that a positive set up creates a positive result,” adds Michelson. “If you ask someone to do what they always do then they will do it. If they normally go to work, do errands and go home in their car, and you ask them to do it with signs, then they will do it. Of course, I also have techniques, like spot checks, to manage control so that advertisers can be confident that the right message is getting through, but I know people will drive with the signs on anyway. After all, that's what they've said they want to do.”

It all seems so easy. Even Kneznekoff overcame her initial embarrassment. “It has been much easier than I thought it would be. I soon forgot the signs were there and got on with my regular driving. It's the easiest money I've ever made!”

But she doesn't think our roads will ever become a moving pastiche of advertising traffic. “I'm not sure if most people feel comfortable with advertising on their cars. Some people thought it was tacky and most people don't want attention brought on themselves. I'm an uncool Mum already, so adding a few signs to my car didn't make much difference!”

Brand owners are evidently hoping more uncool or attention-seeking drivers will want to get out there and earn some easy cash just by driving around.     



Edwin Colyer is a science and technology writer based in Manchester, UK.

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 27 )  email

  brandchannel home archive   2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  | 2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
Dec 20, 2004 Does Your Brand Register Abroad? -- Sergio Beristain
  The trials of naming hinge as much on translation and TM registration as being clever.
Dec 13, 2004 Does Royalty Lead to Brand Loyalty? -- Emilie Boyer King
  The ultimate celebrity endorsement comes from royal warrants. And you don’t have to pay a king’s ransom for them.
Dec 6, 2004 Design Shifts Drive Auto Brands -- Dale Buss
  Designers move back into the driver’s seat in automotive manufacturing.
Nov 29, 2004 Small Step for Man, Giant Leap for Brandkind -- Alycia de Mesa
  Brands shoot for the stars as the space race heats up. Space Adventures, Virgin Galactic, and others hope you’ll book a flight with them.
Nov 22, 2004 Is De Beers Forever? -- Ron Irwin
  Activists use high-profile brands like De Beers to highlight their low-profile causes.
Nov 15, 2004 Branding on a First Name Basis -- Erwin Wijman
  Naming trends: As businesses become less personal, they adopt first names to convey friendliness in the brand.
Nov 8, 2004 Perrier: Nestled in Controversy? -- Joe Ray
  Perrier finds that water runs thicker than French blood as it battles with Swiss-based Nestlé.
Nov 1, 2004 Great Branding Is Rooted in Strategy -- Vincent Grimaldi de Puget
  The “magic” behind successful brands can be achieved through balancing short- and long-term planning.
Oct 25, 2004 Sports Brands Play at Life Style -- Alycia de Mesa
  How does a sports brand make the lucrative jump to lifestyle brand?
Oct 18, 2004 Manufacturing a New Detroit -- Dale Buss
  The city of Detroit embarks on an uphill battle to improve its image.
Oct 11, 2004 News Outlets Plug into New Markets -- Stephen Gardner
  News outlets seek to grow despite increasingly fragmented audiences.
Oct 4, 2004 Brands Rise from the Dead -- Alycia de Mesa
  Can brands be resurrected? Atari and Iridium Satellite try for a comeback.
Sep 27, 2004 Brandsploitation: A New Genre in Film -- Abram Sauer
  The good, the bad, the ugly: A clear-eyed romp through the product placement hype.
Sep 20, 2004 Born into Luxury -- Alycia de Mesa
  Targeting youth: Ultra-premium fashion brands turn to the diaper-wearing set.
Sep 13, 2004 Take Pride in Your Brand -- Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  Brands step out of the closet to embrace gay and lesbian customers.
Sep 6, 2004 Engaging the Aging: Marketing to Europe's Seniors -- Emilie Boyer King
  Are European brands catching on to the potential of aging populations?
Aug 23, 2004 Local Markets Grow Roots -- Michael Standaert
  Local labeling helps farmers compete with large food brands.
Aug 16, 2004 A Global Dose for a Local Market -- Edwin Colyer
  Is there a prescription for implementing global pharmaceutical brands in a local market?
Aug 9, 2004 Mexican Brands Pepper US Market -- Cristian Salazar
  Mexican brands cross the border through NAFTA to reach Latino populations; but why not reach out to the non-Latinos?
Aug 2, 2004 Forcing Brands into Early Retirement -- Randall Frost
  Brand portfolio management: What happens when the brand gets turned off.
Jul 26, 2004 MTV Networks Internationally -- Robin D. Rusch
  How does MTV manage to be the Madonna of the media industry?
Jul 19, 2004 Noilly Prat: Distilled to Perfection -- Jeremy Josephs
  Noilly Prat neither shakes nor stirs the vermouth segment and yet it continues to grow steadily.
Jul 12, 2004 Your Product Name: Fame or Shame? -- Alycia de Mesa
  When a product name becomes more valuable than the corporate name, is it time to switch?
Jul 5, 2004 Street Level Strategy -- Ron Irwin
  Brands take to the street to reach underserved populations.
Jun 28, 2004 Competing Dialects: Selling English -- Dafydd ab Iago
  English schools worldwide compete for foreign students.
Jun 21, 2004 Staying Power: Surviving the Limelight -- Randall Frost
  Overexposure: How can celebrities manage their brand beyond its sell-by-date?
Jun 14, 2004 Setting the Brand to Music -- Dale Buss
  Non-music brands are joining the choir and at the same time changing the face of traditional music brands.
Jun 7, 2004 Restocking Safeway -- A.K. Cabell
  Can supermarket chain Safeway face down risk?
May 31, 2004 South Africa Makes it Local -- Ron Irwin
  Proudly South African aims to make it local and make its locality proud.
May 24, 2004 Brand and Consumers: Who's Seducing Whom? -- Randall Frost
  Is it up to multinationals to satisfy the demands of a select few at the detriment to efficiency and profit? Who does it serve if the consumer seduces the brand?
May 17, 2004 UPS and FedEx Compete to Deliver -- Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  UPS and FedEx are carrying their new position from employee to customer.
May 10, 2004 Changing the Face of Private Labels -- Dale Buss
  Estée Lauder enters into an exclusive arrangement that appears to be more than skin deep with US retailer Kohl’s.
May 3, 2004 Naming Names -- Alycia de Mesa
  Name that product: umbrella brands struggle to identify products and services as part of one family.
Apr 26, 2004 Trademarking: Senses and Sensibility -- Randall Frost
  To ensure a sensual connection with the brand, companies are trademarking scents, sounds, colors and shapes. Floral smelling thread anyone?
Apr 19, 2004 Mapping a Country's Future -- Randall Frost
  Branding a country or region is just like a product brand… except way more complex and far less controllable.
Apr 12, 2004 Stiff Competition: Making a Living with Death -- Stephen Gardner
  Can the traditional funeral industry in Britain survive against larger corporate groups or will it eventually die out?
Apr 5, 2004 Are You Sick of Viral Marketing? -- Abram Sauer
  Similar to any virus, viral marketing is hard to contain or control. How can you make the most of the buzz?
Mar 29, 2004 Celebrity Branding -- Alycia de Mesa
  As a star ascends it can take a product or two with it. Similarly, as a celebrity falls from grace, so goes the appeal of the brand.
Mar 22, 2004 Democracy Rules the Marketplace -- Randall Frost
  Do consumers have more control over what appears in the marketplace than voters do over legislation? What can governments learn from a branding model?
Mar 15, 2004 The Science of Branding -- Edwin Colyer
  Does branding work? Brain scans reveal powerful proof that we may prefer Pepsi, but we’ll buy Coke.
Mar 8, 2004 M-Commerce: Is the Line Dead? -- Randall Frost
  Why does mobile commerce work so well in Japan but not in the US? Is there potential for m-commerce among the one billion cell phone users worldwide?
Mar 1, 2004 How is Porn Penetrating the Mainstream Market? -- Abram Sauer
  The curtain is pulled and the lights are turned on in the adult entertainment industry. As quality rises in risqué entertainment, branding in the industry heats up.
Feb 23, 2004 How Far Can a Brand Stretch? -- Alycia de Mesa
  Disney and Virgin can, but apparently McDonald’s cannot. What allows one brand to stretch to new businesses, products, and services while others cannot?
Feb 16, 2004 Spain's Best Brands -- Interbrand
  Spain ranks its best corporate and consumer brands by value; Telfonica y Zara son las marcas más valiosas.
Feb 9, 2004 Gaining Influence Through Word of Mouth -- Randall Frost
  Can you harness word of mouth to work for you?
Feb 2, 2004 Google Gets Lucky: Brandchannel's 2003 Readers' Choice Award Results -- Robin Rusch
  Google, Apple, Ikea, Cemex and Sony dominate brandchannel's 2003 Readers’ Choice Awards.
Jan 26, 2004 Drug Makers Get in the Game -- Edwin Colyer
  American pharma leads the industry in sport sponsorship. Is it the winning play for selling drugs direct to consumer?
Jan 19, 2004 Delivering the Truth Through PR -- Randall Frost
  Is PR an effective vehicle for communicating the wonders of your brand?
Jan 12, 2004 Fueling Partnerships -- Edwin Colyer
  Gas stations expand their services to include full shopping opportunities. How does this affect the brand?
Jan 5, 2004 Which Bud's for you? -- Mark Jarvis
  As Czech Budweiser prepares to launch its first international marketing campaign, the battle between the two Buds is bound to rise to a head.