Penske Truck Leasing Debuts First National B-to-B Campaign

Effort Shows What Can Go Wrong When Companies Don't Use Penske

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Penske Truck Leasing today is launching its first national b-to-b campaign, designed to raise awareness of its truck leasing, rental and logistics services for businesses.

The campaign, which has the theme "Moving Forward," includes print, online and social media. Online videos break today on around coverage of the NCAA "March Madness" men's basketball tournament.

The ads use humor to show what can go wrong when businesses don't use Penske for their critical shipping and transportation needs, from chickens hatching out of egg cartons to truckers with lousy horns. The campaign was created by The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and the budget was not disclosed.

"We have done a lot of advertising around our individual product lines -- primarily in trade-specific publications -- but we wanted to tell a broader story of what we do," said Sherry Sanger, senior VP-marketing at Penske Truck Leasing.

Penske has three main b-to-b product lines -- commercial truck rentals for businesses' short-term needs; full-service truck leasing for longer-term needs; and logistics, such as handling businesses' transportation and warehousing operations.

The company also provides truck rental services to consumers, although that side of the business makes up less than 10% of the company's total revenue, Ms. Sanger said. Penske Truck Leasing had total revenue of $5.6 billion last year.

"The consumer side is the most visible part of our brand. People are used to seeing our bright yellow trucks," she said. "What we really wanted to focus on is the commercial breadth of our offerings."

So Penske turned to The Martin Agency, its agency of record for the past three years, to develop an integrated campaign that would reach a national business audience.

"Many people in the b-to-b space forget that they are really talking to humans," said Cliff Sorah, senior VP-creative director at The Martin Agency. "We are showcasing the humanity behind the brand and connecting to the audiences with humor."

In doing research, the agency talked to Penske customers and business decision-makers about their pain points and problems they had with truck leasing and logistics providers.

"We heard nightmare stories about the problems people experience when they're not dealing with a company as professional as Penske, from goods not getting to where they are supposed to be to consumers getting their furniture sent to the wrong city," Mr. Sorah said. "The concept of the work is the absence of Penske."

For example, an online video called "Horn" shows a truck being passed by a passenger car, from which a young girl in the back seat gives the driver the "honk" signal. When the driver finally honks the horn, it comes out as a sad bleet, and the girl is not impressed.

Ms. Sanger said the selection of and tying the campaign to the NCAA basketball tournament is a new strategy for Penske.

"We were looking for partnerships around the idea of 'moving forward,' so the idea of moving the ball down the court and being partners in motion made sense," she said.

Online ads are also running on sites including and Print ads are running in publications including Fortune, Fleet Owner and Inbound Logistics. The campaign also includes social media.

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