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Road Rulers
When you're planning a road show, whether with a motorized vehicle or a towable structure, your marketing medium must be capable of achieving all of your objectives. Here are eight examples that took the show on the road – and stopped visitors dead in their tracks. By Linda Armstrong
Little House on the Pickup
A visual manifestation of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.'s combined home and auto insurance coverage, the aptly named RoadHouse was part of a multicity mobile tour to generate awareness for State Farm via game-day tailgating experiences. Joining forces with The Marketing Arm, Turtle Transit cut a pickup truck in half and extended the vehicle to 35 feet by lengthening its drive shaft, wiring harness, fuel lines, and brake lines. The middle of the truck comprised a tiny, modern house featuring large exterior windows and an artificial stone chimney that expelled smoke on cue. Inside, tailgaters discovered high-grade flooring, leather seating, and a 65-inch smart TV for streaming football games. The RoadHouse experience also included a backyard space where staff hosted press interviews atop a three-tiered deck.


You Bet Your Boots
Move over, Weinermobile. There's a new kid – or, more specifically, a couple of new boots – in town. Designed by Turtle Transit, the 11-foot-tall Bean Boots are road-ready replicas of L.L. Bean Inc.'s iconic footwear. Complete with faux-leather patterns, a rubber sole, and appropriately scaled shoelaces (comprising 12-strand braided mooring rope capable of towing 106,000 pounds), the boots were built atop a GMC Sierra 2500 HD truck chassis. The interior of the "Bootmobiles" featured a storage area for event materials and all-weather sound systems that could be attached to the vehicles' exteriors. L.L. Bean typically trotted out the mostly aluminum and fiberglass constructions for experiential efforts, such as business-to-consumer and public-relations endeavors. To date, the Bootmobiles have covered more than 160,000 miles, appeared at hundreds of events in 14 states, and made tracks to every L.L. Bean store.


A Fruitful Endeavor
Getting kids excited about fruits and vegetables is no easy feat. That's why Bolthouse Farms Inc., whose products include everything from Veggie Snackers baby-carrot treats to Fruit Tubes snacks, developed the Snack Mob tour. Designed by Inspira Marketing Group to educate parents and kids about the benefits of Bolthouse Farms Kids products, the tour visited 23 locales in the greater Pittsburgh area. While a larger vehicle traveled to multiple retail events, this 1976 Leyland Mini pickup, customized by Axel Brand (now known as Cramer), cruised around Pittsburg providing guerilla sampling experiences at festivals, fun runs, and local hot spots. Intended to capture the attention of passersby, the truck bed resembled a supersized fruit and veggie basket, complete with giant 3-D bananas, carrots, strawberries, and peaches sticking out the back. Pairing unique vehicles with a farm-fresh sampling experience, the Snack Mob tour no doubt bore serious fruit.


Toast Master
To generate awareness for its variety of Thomas-brand English muffins and bagels, Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc. created the ultimate in pop-up experiences: a larger-than-life toaster. Envisioned by Inspira Marketing Group and crafted by Scenic Fabrication and Design Shop LLC (SFDS), the 28-foot trailer formed the centerpiece of Bimbo's Breakfast Like No Other tour, which visited retailers and consumer events in 18 cities. To mirror the look and feel of a toaster, the trailer offered massive English muffin and bagel replicas popping out of the its top, and enormous dials for Start Toast and Toast Level appeared on the exterior. At night, the rooftop slots even emitted a bright-red glow, giving the impression of a piping-hot toaster in action. Lured to the one-off vehicle, visitors ordered handcrafted breakfast sandwiches, created their own GIFs, and played the Toast Your Luck slot machine for a chance to win branded tote bags, sunglasses, and cutting boards.


Truck Stop
Marketing isn't always about producing immediate leads and sales. Sometimes, it's more about generating awareness and developing brand affinity and/or loyalty. That's exactly what Progressive Commercial Holdings Inc., the commercial-vehicle arm of Progressive insurance, was going for with its experience at the Truckers Jamboree, a fair-like celebration of American truck drivers in Walcott, IA. Brought to life by BFG Marketing LLC, the activation recreated an authentic roadhouse within a mobile shipping container crafted by BoxLife USA. The double-deck structure featured one fold-out wall, which when laid flat exposed the entire interior. Here, visitors discovered another wall covered in reclaimed wood and decorated with trucker-inspired, concert-style posters; guitars; old-school music photography; and more. In addition, an antique, operable jukebox belted out tunes throughout the majority of the experience. However, the main draw was singer and songwriter Brother Sal, who worked with BFG to produce an original track, "Hustle on Home," that told the tale of truckers trying to get home safe after a long haul.


On-Target Idea
Target Corp. wanted to generate massive brand awareness at some of the largest and most prominent racing competitions in the country, namely IndyCar and NASCAR events. With the help of Revolution Marketing LLC, the retail giant went big with its marketing promotion, devising five enormous shopping cart/go kart vehicles for nationwide events over multiple years. While the carts did parade laps around the tracks at some events, at others the vehicles worked the pits, ultimately handing out roughly 50,000 goodie bags filled with sponsor-supplied samples during the course of the promotion. Crafted by CGS Premier, the 11-foot-tall aluminum vehicles were capable of supporting a passenger in the top cart. Based on a modified dune-buggy chassis, each custom vehicle was powered using propane instead of gas.


Totally Tubular
Hoping to expose the 18-to-23-year-old market to its new line of Crest whitening products, Procter & Gamble Co. launched the Crest Imagine Tour and hit the road with a tubular marketing vehicle. While Brand Connections devised the mobile tour, Craftsmen Industries Inc. transformed a 48-foot gooseneck trailer into what appeared to be a giant tube of Crest Whitening Plus Scope toothpaste using rolled aluminum, paint, and branded graphics. Entering through the massive cap, visitors discovered eight private brushing stations – complete with sinks, cabinets, mirrors, and curtains – where they could try the toothpaste products firsthand and receive free samples. The tour stopped at events where consumers might need a little freshening up, such as food festivals during the day and nightlife hot spots in the evening, when the addition of velvet ropes, blue lights, and a booming sound system gave off a Crest nightclub vibe.


Milking It
How do you bring together eight distinct food-product brands within a 40-by-50-foot exhibit space and still maintain an inviting, eye-catching presence with ample room for sampling? If you're DanoneWave, a subsidiary of Danone S.A., you devise a food-festival atmosphere and bring not one, but two mobile-marketing vehicles to Natural Products Expo West. DanoneWave's exhibit house, Denver-based Condit Exhibits, actually acquired the vintage vehicles – one a vending truck and the other a pull-behind camper – from a junkyard and then fixed and refitted them for the trade show stage. While the branded truck offered Silk soy milk samples from two easy-access windows, the So Delicious Dairy Free trailer presented yummy morsels from DanoneWave's various lines of nondairy delights, which are certified vegan and Non-GMO Project Verified (or enrolled). Resting atop a faux turf floor, the vehicles were aesthetically delicious and decidedly authentic – two factors favored by the show's crowd of health-conscious food aficionados.


IMAGES: STATE FARM, THE MARKETING ARM AND TURTLE TRANSIT; L.L. BEAN INC., L.L. BEAN INC. AND TURTLE TRANSIT; DANONEWAVE, EXPOSURES LTD.; BOLTHOUSE FARMS INC., SMITH BROTHERS AGENCY; BIMBO BAKERIES USA INC., LET PEOPLE SEE; TARGET CORP., CGS PREMIER; PROCTER & GAMBLE CO., CRAFTSMEN INDUSTRIES INC.; PROGRESSIVE COMMERCIAL HOLDINGS INC., BFG MARKETING LLC
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