Sunday, May 2, 2010

It pays to drive home a point

You must have seen those cars carrying advertisements for property agents or food companies.

But not many know that car owners can actually sell space on their vehicles for such promotional purposes.

Mr Johnson Soh, 42, manager of decal company Soh Guan Chuan Auto Supply, said more than 10 companies have approached him to find willing car owners. The carrot? Some firms foot the road tax for the owner's car - between $1,000 and $1,500 a year for a 1,600cc car - while others hand out petrol vouchers worth $500 to $1,000.

The companies are in fields ranging from liquor to health products and frozen food.

GenConcept, another decal company, said it has seen 50 per cent more enquiries over the past few years concerning advertising on both cars and commercial vehicles.

Renvertising, a company that specialises in advertising on wheels, also helps companies find car owners.

Renvertising's owner, Mr Jeff Peh, 26, said the number of private car owners who have signed on has grown from 220 in 2008 to about 500 now.

One such owner, who wanted to be known only as L. H., said the advertisement his car carries for 3A Car Mats has prompted many of his neighbours to buy the product.

The 33-year-old car dealer, who drives a Proton Wira, is paid $150 a month for his help. That is enough to cover his road tax of $600 and insurance of about $1,000 yearly.

Sometimes, the advertiser works out a win-win deal with the car owner who might actually be an employee of the firm.

In the case of property agent Edwin Kheng, his 1,500cc Honda City carries details like the name of his company (HSR Property Group) and logo, plus his contact number and photo.

The tie-up is also a plus for his career. Said Mr Kheng, 33: 'With car decals, people know I'm the resident property agent in that area and might call me if they ever need help.'

Decals can cost anything from the low tens to thousands of dollars for more fancy designs.

And then there are the drivers who put up their own money for decals, with lofty goals in mind.

Civil servant Terence Soo, 29, has a decal on his Nissan Latio's bumper that displays the website address of Goducate, a non-profit organisation which he volunteers with.

Set up in 2008, it helps improve literacy levels among poverty- stricken children in South-east Asia.

Of the $12 decal, he said: 'It makes sense for individual volunteers to help this way, rather than by donating just a dollar once in a while.'

A spokesman for the Land Transport Authority said it has guidelines on ad placements. The stickers must not be more than 15cm measured from the top edge of the front windscreen, and not more than 10cm measured from the top edge of the rear windscreen and side windows.

The basic colour of the vehicle must also be maintained. This rules out full-body wrapping using vinyl stickers.

The Traffic Police said owners seeking to put advertisements on their vehicles must first get a permit.

Offenders can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months, or in the case of a second or subsequent offence, a fine of up to $2,000 or jail term of up to six months.

Source: Sunday Times, 2 May 2010

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