Graphics On The Go

Trucks generate millions of 'visual impressions' each day.

This kind of information is allowing them to hone in on their customers and learn how many times they eat at Jack In The Box, what kind of cars they drive and much more. This knowledge allows advertisers to actually optimize the truck routes that their fleet advertising appears on as well as the best messages to put forth, in order to target viewers more effectively.

A Captive Audience

One of the reasons that this form of advertising works so well is that drivers are in a practical sense, a captive audience. There's no TiVO or remote control device in their cars that allows them to change the advertising on trucks that drive past them. They can't turn a page or change the channel or decide to tape it for later viewing. What they see is what they see.

The economics of fleet advertising is also enticing companies that have their own delivery trucks into splashing colorful graphics all over them.

"The cost can range from $3,000 to $5,000 and it's up there for five years," says Kathy Cartan of Motive Media Fleet Graphics, a Canadian provider of truck graphics. "It's big and it's bold and people can't miss it."

"The cost—if you would compare the cost of wrapping a truck to a billboard ad—makes this the most effective means of advertising," notes 3M's Strauss. "You're looking at anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar per impression. If you look at billboards, it's more than $3.50 per impression. Television is $23.00 per impression."

Epic's Smith agrees. "Approximately 1.5 million people see one truck in one month. Advertising and marketing departments pay approximately $10,000 to buy those same eyeballs by purchasing media space on billboards and approximately $45,000 to buy that many eyeballs on prime time TV."

She says that the cost to use the available space on a company's trucks will cost around $197 a month per truck, including the cost of producing the ad, which the other figures don't take into account.

Conversely, she says: "A single $10,000 monthly billboard purchase would pay to outfit 50 trucks with advertising messages and a single monthly TV purchase of $45,000 would pay to outfit a whopping 228 trucks with advertising messages."

Graphics systems such as her company's KWIK Zip Graphics System, which is in essence a frame mounted on the sides of fleet vehicles that the graphics fit into, allow trucking companies to recoup much, if not all of the cost of their advertising.

This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that the sides of her customers' vehicles are being protected from the usual sort of damage that delivery vehicles are subjected to from day one.

"When it's time to sell their vehicle, our customers are telling us: 'we're getting $1,500 or $2,000 dollars back at resale time because the trailer sides are totally new.'"

In addition, with systems such as the one that Smith's company offers, there is no need to scrape the old decals off, which she estimates can save companies up to $2,000 at the time the ad campaign is over.

"Now you have $4,000 dollars in your pocket. That more than pays for the cost of the program."

Vinyl Film Options

The increasing refinement of the vinyl film medium is allowing fleet managers to cover their trucks with graphics that have different life spans. Vinyl film companies such as 3M have learned how to develop product that lasts for many years.

"You can do a permanent wrap," says Motive Media's Cartan, "which will be on there for the life of the trailer."

The industry has also created vinyl for short term applications, allowing trucking companies to potentially outsource the sides of their trailers for advertising programs of different lengths, utilizing vinyl film that lasts one year, two years, or longer.

"They come off easily," Cartan adds. "Then you can just put a brand new message up there."

"If they're doing a short term campaign for a new product," says 3M's Strauss, "we can sell them material that can be removed after six to twelve months." Her company also offers warranties designed to cover the graphics, to insure that they last the pre-determined amount of time they're designed to.

Companies can also opt for special types of vinyl material that produce varying types of effects. One, called "Rear Reflective film," actually illuminates at night when headlights shine on it. "So instead of having the red and silver tape that goes along the sides of the trailers," Cartan explains, "the whole of the trailer will illuminate. It's better for safety."

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