Delivering brand by the truck loads
Mobile ads give impression of wide acceptance
(MediaLife Magazine, March 26, 2001)

By Elizabeth White

No matter what changes in life, few things remain as powerful as the desire to keep up with the Joneses.

If someone appears successful, people will be impressed and follow that person's lead.

That’s at least what the findings of a new advertising study suggest.

The study, which examined a truckside advertising campaign in Detroit, showed that some of the most effective ads aren’t ones that try to sell to a person directly, but rather ones that make someone think that his or her neighbor has already bought the product.

The ad campaign was for PeoplePC, a computer marketer that wanted to give the impression that its computers were being delivered all over town.

To do so, PeoplePC used the truckside advertising firm MediaVehicles, which specializes in advertising on the sides of local delivery trucks that make eight to 12 stops per day.

And although the trucks delivered a wide range of products, the ads were designed to make the trucks look like they belonged to a delivery fleet for PeoplePC.

“The objective was to make people feel that this company that had recently been launched was an instant success,” says Steve Singer of the Singer Group, the market research firm that ran the study through National Family Opinion.

“Seventeen percent of the people who were aware of PeoplePC said that their opinion was influenced by the large number of trucks in the market. That was one of the things that surprised me,” says Singer.

Also according to the study, two-thirds of those surveyed thought the product advertised on the delivery truck was a product that their neighbors had bought.

Over one-half thought that the company was successful, and 41 percent thought that the product was important to the local economy.

They thought so simply because they believed that the delivery truck and all of its contents belonged to the company advertised on the side of the truck.

“We have some very clear evidence that people think the advertised product is being delivered into the marketplace and that the company is successful,” says Singer.

Overall, people in the test market with truckside advertising were 30 percent more aware of PeoplePC than those in the control market without truckside advertising.

“Truckside advertising is a little deceptive because people look to trucks as delivery vehicles, not as advertisements,” says Singer. “People don’t expect the advertisements on the trucks to be for products other than what is inside the truck.”

“It’s not that important for people to think about and make the distinction between the trucks and the product being delivered and the advertisement on the side,” says Singer. “It’s not important to them.”

MediaVehicles says another company, UrbanFetch, used the truckside ads to give the impression that the new company was successful enough to have a large delivery fleet.

“They don’t have a delivery fleet, but we helped give the perception that they did,” says Anthony Polito, director of marketing for MediaVehicles. “We give them a presence in the market. It’s the perception that if I see the trucks, they must be a good company.”