Mobile Billboards – A BIG Mistake

In June of 2008 I was ordered to pay over $200K to wrap 32 Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Trucks as displayed above after a series of papers I rote on why this was a bad idea.  This was the creative idea of 2 Generals who know nothing about marketing, one of whom runs AAFES.  I was able to at least have a call to action added before execution (phone number and website) but I provided the following information to the Commanding General.  This is the executive summary from a more detailed report.

AAFES TRAILER WRAP:  Although with some slight changes to the proposed design there are no legal objections to this idea, from a business perspective this is not a good use of advertising dollars.  The use of billboards is something that requires detailed analysis to determine the correct locations.  A mobile billboard is much more difficult to analyze.  To determine effectiveness we would need to know the times and locations the trucks were driving to determine if it was in the right areas for our USAR recruiting mission.  In addition, looking at other cases where this has been done the biggest challenge is maintenance of these billboards.  If we were to do this we would want to establish a contract with AAFES that guarantees the locations the truck operate, a certain amount of time for the trucks to be operating to ensure that a wrapped truck doesn’t stay parked for a prolonged period of time at a warehouse or on a military installation in a location that provides no benefit to us.  We would also need a maintenance agreement for the signs in the event a truck was damaged.

Despite my advice against it we executed this program.

Result:  2 Leads, 1 Appointment, O Contracts.  It was a complete failure!

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