Call It Street Smart Advertising

April 11, 2002
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ADA —  Super commuters hitting the streets in a rolling billboard is the latest trend in the outdoor advertising game.

Known as the mobile outdoor media, it brings the billboard to prospective clients and can even park the message in their neighborhoods.

In case you didn't know, super commuters are people who drive at least 1,000 miles per week, while rolling billboards are cars, pickup trucks, semi-trailers, SUVs, vans and even the occasional train that have artwork painted on their fenders, doors, hoods, trunks and side windows that depicts a business, person, product, place, service, slogan or a cause.

Or any other type of message capable of being read at speeds of up to 70 m.p.h.

Amy Staskey is state director for Worldwide Outdoor Media, an Alabama firm, and from her Ada office she said that lots of different kinds of companies are using the rolling billboards as an alternative to the traditional stationary ones.

She said WOOD TV-8 was one of the most recent local businesses to jump aboard the rolling bandwagon, as the Storm Team 8 Weather Bug is making the asphalt rounds through a deal the station cooked up with the Betten Volkswagen Super Store.

"It's very new and hip," she said of mobile ads. "It's very popular in Europe, on the East Coast and in California. It's now starting to break out in the second- and third-tier cities."

Staskey said Worldwide Outdoor Media can set a business up with everything it needs for a rolling billboard. She has the cars and drivers, and is looking for more of both, and has the artists, too. Or if a company has its own truck and driver, she can get the firm an artist. She can also guarantee a rolling billboard route.

"I will sit down with a company and figure out what its goals are, whether this is going to be part of a media mix or a stand-alone medium. A lot of the interest I've had has come from business owners who want to use their own vehicles, and doing that has some great tax advantages for a small-business owner," said Staskey, who has run the Michigan operation since January.

Staskey said when she sold traditional outdoor ads, all of her clients wanted billboards in the high-traffic areas, such as Rivertown Parkway in Grandville. But there are never enough stationary signs to fill all the requests, and that situation created a market for mobile ads.

"When somebody says they want to reach Grandville, we give them drivers in Grandville. If they want to reach Rockford, we give them drivers in Rockford. No, these drivers still drive downtown or to work on the southeast side, but they live in that area," she said.

"If someone wanted to reach all of Grand Rapids, I would give them drivers in each of the four quadrants and any suburbs that they want covered."

Besides the art charge, the cost of the ad depends on the size of the vehicle - VWs are less than Chevy Suburbans - and the number of miles driven each week. Drivers have to sign on for a year minimum, but businesses and organizations can contract in monthly increments. Firms can get one car for 10 months, or 10 cars for one month, or any other combination.

"The drivers are paid on the amount of miles they drive, and advertisers also pay on the miles that the driver drives.

"It's the same as if you have a billboard on the S-Curve. You're going to pay about $5,000 a month because of the number of people that will drive by it on a monthly basis," said Staskey.

"It's the same with mobile outdoors. If somebody drives 1,000 miles a week, obviously more people are going to see that car."

Staskey can be reached at 893-9320. That's her mobile number, of course.

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