ShoLodge has contracted with startup media company adExpress to place 48-by-8-foot boards on the sides of trucks for the next six months, at a cost of about $60,000, said John Buttolph, president-franchising at the franchiser of the regional Shoney's Inns chain.
"We are trying to accomplish a new awareness for the Shoney's hotel brand," said Kenna Balch, director of marketing.
ROUTES NEAR HOTELS
Shoney's has selected routes for the trucks that closely parallel the locations of its hotels, from Newark, N.J., south to Orlando and Tampa, Fla., and west to San Antonio and St. Louis.
Graphics, from Powell Creative, Nashville, Tenn., appear on both sides of the truck, and include Shoney's 800-number, its logo, a person sleeping and the line "Rest stop ahead."
"We will measure this from guest comments, ringing telephones and feedback from properties," said Ms. Balch. "If this is successful, we will renew our deal."
"As far as we know, we are the first hotel company to do this type of advertising," she said. "It also provides a cost effective opportunity to reach our customers with more frequency."
ShoLodge has used print ads in the past, via the Burgundy Group, but that agency is not involved in the truck advertising. The idea arrived at Shoney's offices from Chip Forrester, co-founder and president of adExpress.
"He brought in a toy truck and put in on a table," Ms. Balch said.
Mr. Forrester said ShoLodge is Nashville-based adExpress' first client. The over-the-road trucks will do double duty-they will carry freight even as their sides are being sold to advertisers that want to reach interstate-bound consumers.
"Transit advertising is the fastest growing segment of the out-of-home advertising industry," Mr. Forrester said.
AdExpress will grow because of federal and state regulations that have caused a significant decrease in available fixed board locations, he added.
"We create a parallel opportunity to advertise at a lower cost and with greater value in terms of impressions," he said.
Two investors in adExpress are Gary Sasser, founder and owner of Averitt Express, a large trucking company in Tennessee, and David Patterson Jr., owner of Patterson Outdoor Co., Nashville.