Driven to attraction

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The national pork board takes to the streets next month with its largest out-of home ad effort ever-splashed on the sides of trucks. In its own version of planes, trains and automobiles, the $5.2 billion out-of-home advertising industry has embraced truckside advertising-a complement to more established transit ad options including buses, subway stations and airports.

In addition to the Pork Board, running new truckside ads from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell Mithun, Chicago, advertisers like the North American Coffee Partnership-the joint venture between PepsiCo and Starbucks that markets bottled Frappuccino-Kraft Foods, McDonald's Corp. and PeoplePC have recently turned to ads on the sides of city delivery trucks. "They're different; they're new. As such, they're a little bit more attention-getting," said Campbell Mithun Senior Partner Mark Williams.

Although truckside represents a small portion of the transit category-about $100 million in annual revenue of the $884 million sector dominated by bus and airport advertising-its presence cannot be overlooked, said Outdoor Advertising Association of America President Stephen Freitas. "Advertisers are now seeing truckside advertising as part of more mainstream outdoor media and not as much as the fringe media."

"It's definitely becoming more popular on the vendor side; I'm amazed at the growth of companies that are offering that kind of media," said Andrea MacDonald, president of MacDonald Media, New York, an agency for non-traditional and outdoor advertising.

Major truckside ad companies, which act as liaisons among fleet owners, advertisers and agencies, include industry leader GE Capital-owned MediaVehicles, Atlanta; Fleet Advertising Media Group, St. Paul, Minn.; Street Blimps, New York; and TransMedia Group, Chicago, among others.

"Delivery trucks can reach where buses and taxis can't," said David Ludington, president of TransMedia Group, which is managing the 150 trucks for the Pork campaign, as well as efforts for bottled Frappuccino and McDonald's. Unlike buses that have linear routes down main streets and taxis that travel unpredictably, trucks afford the opportunity to reach certain predetermined urban areas, he added. In addition to targeting, ads on inner-city delivery trucks make a brand appear bigger since consumers often assume the truck is actually carrying the product being advertised. "Strategically, [truckside advertising] enhances the awareness of Frappuccino by making a virtual fleet," said Hallie Friedman, who handles the account at Carat's Outdoor Vision, New York, which worked with Frappuccino agency Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, New York.

Marketers are also attracted to the cost of truckside ads, especially in an economic environment that's squeezing ad budgets. Cost-per-thousand estimates for truckside ads range from $1 to $2, according to truckside companies, depending on the number of trucks and length of the campaign. Outdoor Vision's Ms. Friedman said a three-month truckside buy is about the same cost as a one- or two-month bus program. "It's almost a two-for-one kind of thing," she said.

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