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It is difficult to miss a Hummer, but how many companies could afford to run one to promote their business? The answer is, of course, very few and it is doubtful whether GM's overgrown offspring would be the most suitable promotional vehicle for many of them. What then are the alternatives and how could businesses benefit from using a vehicle as an advertising medium?
What is a promotional vehicle?
A promotional vehicle is a car, truck or SUV with purpose-designed adhesive vinyl graphics applied to its exterior, promoting a business or one of its products or services.
The graphics may be a full wrap (the whole vehicle is covered), a decal wrap (decals are applied to body panels) or a window wrap (decals are applied to the side and rear windows).
The types of business that operate promotional vehicles include radio stations, beer companies, car dealers and up-market pubs, clubs and restaurants to name but a few.
The benefits of a promotional vehicle
A vehicle is mobile so you can take your advertising places. Both drivers and pedestrians will notice your advertising when your vehicle is parked as well as when it is on the move.
Your advertising stays in position until you remove it or sell the vehicle. There is no need to book media space or pay regular subscriptions.
The cost is not as much as you might expect. In fact, vehicle graphics cost less to create and apply than many other types of advertising. If you apply graphics to an existing vehicle then there are no additional costs.
You can potentially make a big impression. Cleverly designed and eye-catching vehicle graphics can be used for PR purposes.
Is a promotional vehicle for me?
It depends on your business, as promotional vehicles are not suitable for every company.
Brand image is a key deciding factor. You need to consider how the vehicle will be used (will it be on the move much of the time or parked), what will it be used for and who will drive it and how will it be driven. Do not forget that the vehicle will influence people's perceptions of your company and your product/service.
Budgetary considerations will play a part too, more so if you are purchasing a new vehicle specifically for use as a promotional vehicle.
Which are the best promotional vehicles?
For sheer size and physical presence, nothing beats the Hummer, H2 and other large SUV's.
At the opposite end of the scale is the 2.5-metre long Mercedes Smart car - one of the most popular promotional vehicles in Europe. This goes on sale in Canada in the fall of 2004 and is sure to have great novelty value and attract a lot of attention.
In between these extremes, you have vehicles such as the PT Cruiser and the forthcoming Chevrolet SSR. Molson promoted their A Marca Bavaria beer at last year's Vancouver Indy using a Honda Element. Other possibilities include the VW Beetle or an unusual, classic or sports car.
The MINI might seem an obvious choice but bear in mind that the model already includes a range of graphic treatments in its option list and this may reduce its usefulness as a promotional vehicle because your advertising will stand out less.
Whatever vehicle you choose it should attract attention in its own right and the less common it is the better.
If you are buying a new vehicle, your choice will be determined by your promotional requirements and your budget. A cheaper solution is to use an existing company vehicle. However, consider the impression you want to make on your target audience and avoid the temptation to apply a wrap to your rusting, dented 1992 Safari.
What about the vehicle graphics?
The first step is to commission a design for your vehicle. Your design is printed in full color on weather-resistant high-quality adhesive vinyl. This is then applied to the vehicle.
A complete vehicle wrap will take 8 hours or more; a decal or window wrap will take less time. The vinyl is durable and washable. It can be removed when the time comes to update the design (for example if you change your logo) or when you sell the vehicle.
So, if you are looking for an alternative way to promote your business and you want to take your message onto the street or to events then you should consider a promotional vehicle.It may not be suitable for every company but if it is right for you then it is a great way to get people to notice and talk about your business.
Copyright © 2004, Christopher Smith, Mano Design
About The Author
Chris Smith is a partner in Mano Design ( http://www.mano-design.com ) - a Vancouver Design and Marketing agency.