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That's a Wrap

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As you fuel up, an advertisement starts playing on a screen on the gas pump. You close the bathroom stall and, low-and-behold, there's an ad on the back of the door. That billboard is changing sides and, all of a sudden, there's a different advertisement displayed.

Is there anywhere you can look these days without seeing an advertisement? Apparently not!

Here's one more scenario for you. You're driving down the freeway and what pulls up next to you? A brand new PT Cruiser with a big Coca-Cola ad all over it.

Think it can't happen? It already is.

It's called a "wrap" and it's gaining popularity with advertisers as they try to reach their target market.

Time Warp: Back to the Wrap Future
In 1993, SuperGraphics wrapped a bus in computer-generated vinyl. The Crystal Pepsi ad became the first rolling advertising in this form.

Then there's Amtrak. A coach car on San Diego train #773 was wrapped for Holiday Inn Hotels.

But this form of advertising is expensive. Smaller companies couldn't take part in this ad medium so easily.

Plus, those that can afford it are having to wait. The bus and train supply is limited when you get right down to it.

So how do you satisfy supply and demand, reach a target market and offer a cost-effective alternative to buses and trains?

Wrap cars.

Spring Forward. Wrap Back.
At first, it was Volkswagen Beetles that became colorfully wrapped. Now it's old cars, new cars, SUVs and minivans.

What on earth would make you want to drive an advertisement on wheels? What about several hundred dollars a month? Or a new car?

Free Car Media offers drivers use of a specific car wrapped in an advertiser's materials. And these drivers even have to agree to be present at certain promotional events as part of the deal.

Ultimately, it's their advertising client (the sponsor) that decides which kind of vehicle - new or used - that ends up with the product's wrap. If the sponsor decides to give up their vehicle wrap at the end of their contract, the ad space is then sold to another company.

Free Car Media has more than 30 wrapped cars on the road and a waiting list of 100,000 people.

Autowraps pays drivers anywhere between $100 and $3,200 a month. Drivers are selected based on their location, age, sex and car type. They don't offer free vehicles but over 55,000 people have volunteered to have their personal cars wrapped. More than 400 of these cars are on the road right now.

Autowraps provides a unique advantage for their clients. Sponsors can purchase wraps for any amount of time. So when the client's ad campaign changes, so can the car.

Drivers generate additional revenue through special promotions, events and distributing product samples and other materials. For example, a driver may be asked to drive their personal, wrapped vehicle to a trade show or store opening.

Since these cars might be on display at special events, depending on the client, they might have special features on them as well. Yahoo! began an ad campaign with wrapped taxis in New York City. These cabs featured wireless Web access inside. Head and Shoulders and Sony both have video monitors inside their wrapped cars to enhance the interactive display.

Wrap It Up
Ready to get your car wrapped? Before you logon to these sites and fill out their questionnaires, consider this:

You're not just riding around in your car anymore. Basically, you become a representative of the client. For instance, Free Car educates its drivers on the client's products/services. The company even offers a sample of the product - from soda to computers - when possible.

Execs want you to know everything about the product. When people see you out and about in your wrapped car, they may have questions. This way, you'll know the answers.

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