August 1 — ATLANTA (AP) — When Nia Lewis was looking for a car to drive to Florida to visit her in-laws, she went to the Atlanta Budget Rent a Car website as she normally does. But she stumbled upon something unusual.
There, on the site's home page, was a big discount. The catch? The car is a moving ad.
With the price of gasoline approaching $4 a gallon and the economy still in bad shape, Budget is hoping more deal-hungry vacationers want to rent cheaper vehicles — as long as they don't mind driving a billboard.
Lewis read the fine print on the website, searched the company the ads were promoting and filled out a questionnaire that asked what types of areas she might be visiting.
But the selling point was the price: Lewis saw that she could get an SUV that would usually cost closer to $300 for a four-day trip for about $88.
She was sold.
"The price definitely outweighed everything," said Lewis, who will be traveling with her husband and 2-year-old daughter at the end of August. "I think it's a neat idea. You're paying them to advertise their vehicle, but they're helping you because it's a much cheaper rate than I would've paid."
The Boca Raton, Fla.-based rental car company is launching its sponsored rental vehicles campaign in Atlanta, one of its major hubs, with 15 full-size sedans and 10 intermediate SUVs. Those are the sizes most frequently rented by leisure travelers and families.
The cars are outfitted with ads for Sheets Brand Energy Strips, a product launched earlier this summer. The promotion was brokered by Wrap Media Group, which offers brands nontraditional advertising.
The Budget campaign is a first for all three companies, and the Atlanta promotion continues through November. But the concept is not entirely new, having already been applied to vehicles like trucks and buses. Companies emblazon their corporate fleets with logos and independent contractors often promote their wares on car doors and bumpers.