A Really Dumb Question

For years, I’ve been wondering.

Why don’t marketers get together with trucking companies and place advertising on those huge rolling billboards called trucks?

Most 18-wheelers have nothing but boring trucking company logos, or nothing at all. But talk about exposure to eyeballs, 24/7!

If Sealy can do such an effective job on their own trucks, why can’t other trucks be transformed into eye-catching billboards?

Prior related post: How to Waste 100,00 Billboards (my very first StickyFigure post!)

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

10 Responses to A Really Dumb Question

  1. geekmommy says:

    I don’t know if this is brilliant or if I hate you for it :\

    I would guess that it’s because companies paying independent truckers to haul their stuff might not want to advertise for their competitors?

  2. @geekmommy Let’s toss out an example. Perhaps Sharp wanted to promote their HD video/electronics line. So, they contract for 2 years with a mid-sized national trucking line to have 50 trucks “graphicked” with gorgeous depictions of Sharp LCD screens, or what have you. Or an airline had a depiction of their plane/logo with a message like, “What are you doing down here?” I see a lot more possibilities than downside!

  3. JMacofEarth says:

    I thought most of the ones owned by the company (Sealy, BestBuy, OfficeDepot, etc) did have billboard type images and graphics on them. I recall the office depot one that looked like a bunch of their boxes were falling out of the open back door.

    Here in Austin our metro buses have those advertising wraps that are becoming so popular. Where the bus is actually completely transformed in to an AD. You can’t even see the people on the bus go up and down any more, you just see RADIO KAOS! and marble counter top ads.

    So I’m not sure where you are that the trucks aren’t mainly wrapped. I do see how the contract truckers, who are hauling what ever freight will make the most money, could sell their moving billboard. Heck with all the GPS equipment they have on the rigs these days, the could probably calculate eyeballs. And across a fleet of say 2,000 trucks that could be a serious revenue stream.

    So not really a dumb question, but certainly one that could be viewed on a large scale as a missed opportunity.

    Steve, do you know anyone in trucking?

  4. @JMac – when I look around as I drive, most of the trucks I see are unbranded (blank potential billboards), or branded meaninglessly with the trucking line logo. Even if a trucking company wanted to promote itself, it could do so on the back doors of the truck, and on the cab, leaving the huge sides for marketing something else.
    As a side note, someone could make a lot of money helping trucking companies come up with better names and logos. Most of them are absolutely awful.

  5. annhandley says:

    “As a side note, someone could make a lot of money helping trucking companies come up with better names and logos.”

    Stuck in bumper-to-bumper highway traffic one day, I had a similar thought and entertained myself by creating new names and taglines for companies – not just trucking companies, but any company with a truck on the road. It was astounding, actually, the number of companies that don’t use the space effectively.

  6. Paul Chaney says:

    I agree with Ann and with you Steve. Trucking companies could use better branding. You are seeing big brands like the aforementioned using trailers as billboards. McDonald’s is another that comes to mind.

    Growing up as the son of a trucker (my dad owned a small trucking company for many years), I can tell you that marketing is not part of the trucking milieu or mindset.

    Their concerned about delivering their load on-time and under budget and don’t see that splashing a billboard across the side of the trailer as being a significant factor in building the bottom line. Plus, I suspect it’s only the larger carriers that have marketing departments.

    Still, it’s something to think about to be sure.

  7. Robbie Mac says:


    A fair question. It IS done – there are a number of companies in North America that do truckside advertising, although they are mainly regional based, rather than national. We are the major operator in Australia, and I know of companies in the UK, continental Europe and southern Africa who also provide similar services.

    Having said that, the advertising business is a surprisingly complex one, and what seems like a no-brainer is actually far more complicated. The “production cost” of each side is surprisingly high, and the number of eyeballs which see the message is difficult to measure, notwithstanding the obvious flaws in the measurement of other media (eg TV ratings, newspaper readership). Purchasers of advertising space are paradoxically conservative people (“no-one ever got the sack for ordering a TV commercial”) so venturing into “unknown” and “unquantifiable” media is something they do a lot less than you might think. And then there is the “media cost” – what is that space worth to an advertiser, and how is that value calculated relative to the other media available to that buyer? Again, a complex question with multiple answers, depending on who is answering the question.

    In Australia, we have found the value equation rarely works on “linehaul” vehicles, so the focus is on city based operators, and the trade-off between production cost and media cost, along with the necessary population density, means the backs of the trucks are close to the optimal solution. You will see some examples on our web site, although, like the architect whose house is never finished, our website is very out of date, but it should give you a taste.

    We also do a whole bunch of other vehicle based media, primarily in the specialised, or one-off area of promotions, building and operating customied units. To have a look at one, go to YouTube and search under “XXXX truck”, and you will see one of our recent creations.

    Plenty more to talk about, but that should get you started.



  8. Rick Schwartz says:

    Hey Steve! Your idea of an owner-operator selling space on his/her trailer sounds like a GREAT idea to me! I’m an O/O of a 53′ Van with no writing on it whatsoever and all white. I travel all 48 states. Any idea who I can contact for selling all this space for ads?

    If you have any ideas, please reply to: rick_schwartz@deliveryman.com

    Thanks much!

  9. Pingback: Truckvertising « StickyFigure

  10. Isuzu Trucks says:

    This has started to happen in Australia.

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