The ASI Promocar, a Mazda covered in promotional products inside and out, is now on a 2,700-mile journey across the country, from LA to ASI headquarters outside Philadelphia. Follow the trip on ASI’s Facebook and on ASI CEO Tim Andrews’ Instagram.
Pennsylvania Welcomes You
The ASI Promocar finished its eight-day cross-country promotional tour this week, traveling a total of 3,144 miles across 13 states, with stops in eight cities and towns, featuring a countless number of personal encounters (extraterrestrial and otherwise).
Everywhere the #ASIpromocar stopped throughout ASI’s “Driving Serious Fun” PR campaign, people took photos of the promo-covered car and asked questions, leading to innumerable conversations about the high-impact value of promotional items and the $21.5 billion ad specialty industry.
And since everyone loves free stuff, we also gave away a trunkful of logoed giveaways, along with Promocar T-shirts, to remember us by.
The point of driving a moving billboard across America was simple: to motivate end-users to consider advertising with promo products the next time they need to get the word out. Throughout the trip, reactions were overwhelmingly positive.
The Promocar made people smile, laugh, wave and give a thumbs up, at truck stops, rest areas, restaurants, tourist attractions and especially along on the open road (by passengers, not drivers).
The Promocar also garnered its shared of press coverage, from a story in the Los Angeles Times (daily readership: 1.5 million) to a photo in Arkansas’ Press Argus-Courier (circ. 4,300).
I know some industry people (and co-workers) think the Promocar is silly, but I challenge them to produce a better conversation starter – or advertising vehicle. Instead of dismissing the freebies glued to the car, people marveled at their staying power (we lost a total of six lightweight items). Viewers were also keen on the wide variety of giveaways decorating the 2002 Mazda, inside and out, from standards like logoed pens and keychains all the way to branded touch gloves and USBs.
At a time when so many of us bury our faces in our devices, or communicate strictly electronically, it was wonderful to meet face-to-face with people of all ages, races and occupations. That kind of personal interaction is a big part of why ASI continues to host brick-and-mortar trade shows across the country. It works!
Every chance we got during the Promocar trip, we pitched the value of promo products – usually in response to the question “Why’d you do that to your car?” It always felt more like a friendly chat than a sales pitch, which I think made it more effective.
My co-pilot and I enjoyed innumerable moments during our mad dash across America, driving six to 13 hours a day, stopping each night in a different city or small town, from Flagstaff, AZ to tiny Floyd, VA. We met hundreds of warm, wonderful people and saw an amazing assortment of weird, wacky roadside attractions. Below are a few of our favorite encounters:
- Best promotional giveaway: The logoed $100 “bills” given away by Big Texan Steak Ranch, a Rt. 66 landmark in Amarillo that’s famous for also giving away a 72-oz. steak dinner to anyone who can eat the entire thing in one hour. Runner up: Cool matches given away by Tune-Up restaurant in Santa Fe, N.M.
- Best interview: “The Freebie Man” interviewed at Graceland (this mad fan for promo products refused to pay admission, opting for a free look over the mansion wall). Runner up: Asheville, N.C. photographer Eric Wilson and his adorable, bunny-eared children, at the Biltmore Estate on Easter.
- Best coincidence: Crossing paths with four random strangers who said “ASI! I know ASI!”
- Best calendar: Café Pasqual’s in Santa Fe, N.M., featuring gorgeous art work.
- Best T-shirt: Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.
- Best radio: “Nights with Alice Cooper” radio program (yes, that Alice Cooper). Runner up: KZKE 103.3 out of Seligman, AZ. The rock classics kept us awake during a late-night power drive.
- Best item glued to the ASI Promocar: Stress balls. They refused to come off. Even the one glued with GE Silicon II nearly a year ago to the tip of the antennae remains firmly in place. Runner up: Logoed slinkys, which kids especially loved.
- Best autograph: The Chinese characters from C.K., of the China Auto Sports Club (CASC).We invited everyone to sign the Promocar because who wouldn’t want to sign a car?
- Best roadside attraction: Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, TX. Ten Caddys buried nose-deep in the ground, featuring free admission. Runner up: Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, AZ, a town also home to an odd array of giant roadside dinosaurs and raptors.
- Best rest stop: Dinesphere Space Station Restaurant, aka Golf Ball House, Arizona Death Star or Area 66, in Yucca, AZ. Runner up: Any of the Love’s Travel Stops – each one we visited was clean, convenient and featured really nice clerks, even at 2 a.m.
- Best mass commercial appeal: Graceland, home of the King himself, Elvis Presley. Runner up: Seriously? No one does it better than Graceland.
- Best route: Interstate 40, from California to North Carolina, which parallels or overlays historic U.S. Route 66. Easy traveling, fairly well maintained, simple on/off, little traffic, great attractions.
Final Promocar story:
In Virginia, a stern-faced man approaches, looking like he wants to take a swing at us or report us to the local police. Instead, he shocks us by pulling out his camera and saying, “It’s beautiful. Beautiful. All the signs and stuff. It’s neat.”
Pointing to the antique ceramic Hawaiian ukulele man glued to the dashboard (the Promocar’s mascot, Bobby, so named because he bob, bob, bobbed along the entire drive), the man adds, “I really like that little man in there bouncing around. Makes it look good.”
When we tell him we expect to arrive home in N.J. the next day he says firmly, “You’ll make it.”
Except for one flat tire, we did – without incident and after enjoying the goodwill and encouragement of a ton of well-wishing strangers. The ASI Promocar certainly won’t change the world or go viral. But it made a lot of people smile and gave any number of road-weary travelers something else to write home about – and to remember us by.
I’ll take it.
Read more of Dawn Marie's exciting cross-country road trip on the ASICentral Team Blog!
And track the Promocar's progress with Google Maps!