Thursday, August 18

North Carolina Turns DOT Trucks into Moving Billboards

Businesses in North Carolina will soon have a new way to advertise, and it’s coming straight from the Department of Transportation.

A new sponsorship program will allow businesses to attach corporate messages and logos on DOT property, starting with the DOT’s yellow Incident Management Assistance Patrol Trucks and expanding to ferries, shoulders, websites and rest areas. Even the DOT helplines may eventually be sponsored by a business. Officials are hoping that the deal will generate millions of dollars a year for the Department of Transportation.

The yellow IMAP trucks are a common sight on busy North Carolina freeways, serving as responders to stranded motorists and major accidents. Now, when residents see them arriving in their rear view, they might catch a glimpse of an advertisement as well.

Virgina Mabry, head of the DOT’s Priority Projects office, hopes that sponsors are drawn in by the appeal of having their logo attached to a service that helps people on the road. She pointed out that companies like State Farm or Triple-A stand to benefit from visibility in roadside assistance, according to Newsobserver.com.

She also expects the money from corporate sponsors to offset operating costs and improve road safety. The DOT already allows businesses to place logos on their Sponsor-A-Highway sign, and the transportation board recently approved a policy that will expand the locations where ads and corporate logos may appear.

“In an age of information overload, companies are struggling to find innovative ways to reach consumers,” says Bill Hayes, CEO of Sign Dealz. “The corporate sponsorship of government vehicles can be a mutually beneficial relationship for everyone involved. Companies get the chance to advertise and increase their brand awareness in new ways, while municipal agencies are able to use those funds to increase transportation and safety related initiatives. This article is a prime example of the power of signage as a brand building and cost effective advertising tool.”

Ten other states have taken similar measures. State Farm advertises on Georgia DOT vehicles, a deal which brings in $1.8 million a year. Research estimates that the IMAP truck sponsorship deal could bring in $800,000-2.2 million a year, though Mabry thinks they won’t make as much as Georgia.

Though sponsor logos likely won’t show up on North Carolina’s 82 IMAP trucks until 2016, the DOT is already preparing to invite different marketing firms to bid for the chance to recruit a sponsor. To avoid confusion, the trucks will still remain yellow and bear the Department of Transportation logo.

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