WFXB taps into fat outdoor advertising budgets by striking a deal with a local car dealer that allows the station to offer advertisers billboards on wheels to complement their on-air campaigns.
Airtime is often likened to real estate. Its bottom line value derives from the fact that it’s a finite resource. Of course, that’s mainly true for the sellers. Buyers can always find more airtime tomorrow, or elsewhere for that matter. When a TV station sells out its inventory, revenues are pretty much maxed out. So-called “value added” deals merely make matters worse, often sacrificing saleable airtime to bonus commercials or promos.
Not so in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where General Sales Manager Jon Jones and his team at WFXB have created a clever sales promotion that generates brand new “real estate.” The Fox43 Car Wrap campaign entices first-time advertisers and rewards existing clients by offering them a chance to reinforce their on-air spots with outdoor ads—wrapped around brand new Toyota Scions.
The promotion started modestly about four years ago, when WFXB was approached by a longtime client, Sparks Toyota. It offered to wrap the station logo around a few of its vehicles in exchange for airtime.
Intrigued, but reluctant to give up potential cash sales, Jones came up with a better idea. He obtained Sparks’ blessing to “sub-lease” the car wraps to other advertisers and then approached three existing amusement park clients, Myrtle Waves, Myrtle Beach Pavillion and Maqiquest. The parks quickly took him up on the offer, and, to Jones’ delight, actually increased spending.
Armed with this initial success, Jones approached management for permission to trade for the wraps on 12 vehicles the following year. Although still wary about sacrificing cash buys, his bosses gave the OK and a novel partnership was formed.
Here’s how it works: Sparks Toyota supplies the cars and covers the cost of designing and applying the full-color vinyl wrappers. Each client’s ad runs for 90 days and each car gets plenty of exposure because Sparks leases them for $1 a month to local commuters, often the same folks who design and print the wrappers. (Like any lessee, drivers are responsible for fuel, maintenance and insurance.)
To qualify for these billboards on wheels, a new WFXB advertiser must commit to spend at least $12,000 per year. FOX23 rewards existing clients by charging only $8,000. Selling only to new clients would capture at least $144,000 in new revenue—a nice piece of change for the 105th DMA. But according to Jones, the car wrap did far better, “Last year it earned over $300,000 in incremental spending increases from 12 clients, including a good healthy increase from Sparks Toyota.”
“This is much more than generic value added,” says Rigby Wilson, who took over as GM of WFXB last year when GE sold the station to Bahakel Communications. “Outdoor is very competitive here, so we’re delivering something that new advertisers couldn’t afford otherwise. [Myrtle Beach is] “a $68 million outdoor market, many times bigger than the TV market.”
Jones says the program’s success exceeded his expectations. “At first we were surprised, but we soon realized we had opened a new revenue stream. We gained access to the clients’ outdoor budgets.”
In 2006, the wrapped cars promoted the amusement parks, four furniture companies, three shopping malls, a hair salon and even a hearing aid company.
“It’s a three-corner bank shot,” says Wilson. It works for the station because its logo appears on every wrap, it works for the new advertisers because they get bonus outdoor exposure and, of course, it works for Sparks Toyota.
The joint promotion has proven so successful that last August Toyota showcased the dealer and the campaign in Toyota Today, the carmaker’s in-house journal for dealers and suppliers.
“We put the Scion XB on the map as an ideal ad vehicle,” says Jones. “It’s by far the most wrapped vehicle in town. We’re already out there selling the cars for 2007.”
Market Share by Arthur Greenwald is a series on successful station promotions that appears every Monday. Next week, learn more about how New Revenue Solutions’ Image Plus program helps local stations to expand and refine their database of productive sales leads. We’re on the lookout for other good ideas for increasing local audience and revenue. If you have one (or more) to share, please contact Arthur Greenwald at [email protected].