Illinois currently offers more than 70 specialty license plates, such as for colleges or nonprofits or ones honoring military servicemen and women. A few more specialty plates may soon be coming to the Prairie State: ones with corporate advertisers.
The state is studying the prospect of raising revenue by selling ad space on license plates, according to the Peoria Journal Star.
Democratic State Senator John Mulroe of Chicago successfully lobbied this spring for “a measure to have the secretary of state's office study whether the state could make money by allowing corporations to sponsor license plates,” the Journal Star reports.
Illinois would be following in the footsteps of Texas, which has been offering branded specialty plates — such as plates bearing the Dallas Mavericks' logo — since November 2009. Since then, Texas has raised $51,805 by selling 489 plates including logos from six companies, including RE/Max, Dr. Pepper, and Ford, the paper reports.
The program in Texas works differently than the proposal in Illinois, however. Texas uses a third-party vendor, MyPlates, to make the plates while Illinois would make all of its own plates, the Journal Star reports. Also, Illinois car owners would get a discount for purchasing such a plate while folks in Texas receive no such thing. Revenue would be gained in Illinois by charging the companies to place the ad on the license plate.
Mulroe was initially rebuffed by the secretary of state’s office when he asked them to do a report on the issue, he told the Journal Star. “They said, 'It sounds like a left-field idea, so let's leave it in left field.' I responded, 'We haven't been playing too well in the infield, maybe it's time to try something else.'"
John Morgan of Chicago originally brought the idea to Mulroe after researching it for two years, the paper notes; he “has proposed creating a start-up that would solicit businesses on behalf of the state” and claims that there some “larger corporations (that) have expressed interest in having the ability to advertise on license plates,” according to the paper.
The study is scheduled to be completed by year’s end, according to the Journal Star.
The influential Chicago Sun-Times has come out against the move, opining in an editorial: "Honestly, people, does the Land of Lincoln really want to become the Land of Nike?" (What do you think: do corporate logos belong on license plates?)
The Texas legislature, meanwhile, is reportedly one vote shy of greenlighting a controversial logo to add to the the state's list of approved specialty car license plates — a confederate flag, the logo for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.