Wilmington-based car-wrapping company Carvertise has moved into the entertainment marketing arena, and it’s turning heads — even in advertisement-saturated New York City.
This month, a fleet of NYC Uber, Lyft and other Carvertise cars were wrapped with eye-catching ads for the ninteenth season of Bravo’s Project Runway, the hit reality show fashion competition. The campaign, a partnership with NBCUniversal, is similar to past Carvertise campaigns in cities across the country, with brand partners like EASports, NASCAR and Wawa. But the Project Runway campaign is here with some added twists.
The show’s fan following made the campaign unique, with riders having the opportunity to take selfies with the cars, and take advantage of a developing feature Carvertise calls the “swarm.”
“Essentially, it’s like a mini parade of [wrapped] cars,” said Carvertise founding partner Greg Star. “We had cars swarming Times Square during specific times; New York City is a very expensive market for advertising. Getting one billboard in Time Square for like, five seconds literally costs you $40 grand — literally. So we’re very optimistic we might do more of that in the near future.”
Features like the Times Square swarm are beneficial not just for the company and the advertiser, Star says, but they’re also good for the drivers, who earn about $450 to $1,500 for a month-long campaign on top of their earnings as an Uber, Lyft or delivery driver. The extra features allow Carvertise to pay drivers more, Star says, in the form of a base pay bonus for showing up on time for a swarm event, as well as other opportunities.
The Project Runway campaign was centered in fashion-forward NYC, but other similar campaigns could be centered around events like an Eagles game or music festival. These type of events have had off-the-cuff swarm-type happenings in the past, but, moving forward, these features are going to be more official, more “baked in” and laid out in contracts with the appropriate brand partners.
The credit for landing the NBCUniversal account goes to Carvertise’s Los Angeles director of sales, Mark Ligos, a fact that shows how much Carvertise — which got its start as a University of Delaware student startup — has really grown. The company is in all of the country’s top advertising markets from coast to coast, with five remote sales directors and more to be hired soon as the company continues to grow.
In fact, Star says, Carvertise has doubled in size over the past year, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Things have escalated,” he said. “I think part of getting through COVID was that the business got a lot stronger by surviving. We got out of a crisis, and now we’re on this trajectory. In retrospect, it was really challenging, but I think most organizations who get through that rebound pretty strong.”
The initial quarantine was bad for the outdoor advertising business, but Carvertise’s focus on drivers that contracted with services like Door Dash and InstaCart helped to bring the ads right to people’s front doors, as ordering dinner or groceries online for delivery became normalized.
“Our clients tell us that our branded cars are the most memorable out-of-home advertising medium they’ve ever seen,” Star said, noting that data from a 2019 Nielsen out-of-home study backs it up.
As for which popular entertainment brands we might see swarming the streets next, it remains to be seen, though Netflix is already a brand partner, with a campaign for its original series “The Crew” that ran last February. The campaign was Carvertise’s first big entertainment campaign, if not the one that has garnered the most buzz.