100 Years of Vehicle Graphics
Full vinyl vehicle wraps are a relatively new product, but the concept of advertising on a vehicle goes all the way back to ancient family seals on horse-drawn carriages.
The modern age of vehicle graphics began in the 1800’s when companies began painting graphics on the sides of train cars. These cars helped raise awareness of the brands as they traveled thousands of miles across the country.
In the 1950’s German advertisers took advantage of the large surface area on the Volkswagon Transporter and made them into mobile billboards. They also took the opportunity to mount a replica of the product on the roof, an advertising technique still seen 60 years later.
In the 1970’s NASCAR advertisers realized the value in placing vehicle graphics on racing cars. For many years the hoods of NASCAR vehicles were reserved for beer, tobacco and motor oil companies, but in the mid-1980’s Proctor & Gamble placed logos for Crisco, Tide laundry detergent and Folgers coffee prominently on cars. After these products saw a sales boost many other brands hopped on the track. Today primary sponsorships generally cost between $10 and $25 million a year and usually include a spot on the hood and visibility on the driver and pit crew’s uniforms.
Full vehicle wraps were available as early as the 1990’s but they took hours of labor to apply. Each color had to be applied individually and the use of photographic images in graphics was not available.
Today vehicle graphics can be designed with almost any image and in any size thanks to advances in digital printing and materials. The food truck explosion has created a whole new market for customized vehicle graphics. Aaron Noveshen, co-founder of Mobi Munch, predicts that 10 percent of the top 200 restaurant chains will have a mobile food truck presence in the next two years. Many of the custom graphics on these trucks take advantage of other modern technology, such as QR codes. These custom codes can be scanned by a smartphone app and direct a user to any website. Food trucks can include QR codes on the vehicle wrap to direct customers to the website that details the truck’s route and stops. Social icons on vehicle wraps also encourage customers to get engaged with the brand on Twitter and Facebook.
Outdoor Advertising Magazine said that outdoor mobile media billboards have a 97 percent recall rate and the American Trucking Associations noted 91 percent of the target audience noticed the text and graphics on truck advertising. With success like this it’s easy to see why vehicle graphics have continued to evolve over time.