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Car Wrap Advertising: Creating Moving Billboards

Car Wrap Advertising: Creating Moving Billboards

Imagine driving down the freeway and seeing a car drive by wholly covered in a colourful, eye-catching advertisement. That is the power of car wrap advertising. By wrapping vehicles in custom vinyl decals, companies can turn them into moving billboards to promote brands, products, services, and more.

Car wrap advertising offers an extremely targeted, high-impact marketing tactic for businesses looking to expand their reach and get their messaging in front of thousands of potential new customers daily. This guide will explore everything you need to know about wrapping vehicles for advertising.

What is Car Wrap Advertising?

Vehicle Wrap Design Inspiration

Car wrap advertising, sometimes called vehicle or car advertising wraps, refers to covering a car, truck, van, bus, or other vehicle in a thin vinyl material featuring a customised graphic design or advertisement.

A full car wrap covers 80-100% of the vehicle's exterior in the vinyl decal, transforming it into a mobile billboard for the advertised business, organisation, or cause.

How it Works

Professional installers apply the vinyl decal over the top of the vehicle's factory paint in a complex process that can take 20+ hours from start to finish.

Once applied, the full wrap protects the vehicle's original paint. It acts as a new external “skin” featuring the graphics, imagery, text, branding, contact info, special offers, and more that the advertiser wants to showcase.

This turns the ordinary car or truck into a high-visibility marketing workhorse seen by tens of thousands of eyeballs daily on the road.

Key Benefits

Car wrap advertising offers a variety of unique advantages:

  • Targeted Exposure: Vehicles go where your customers go, ensuring your target demographic will see your ads, not just random people. Wraps allow for targeting by geography, venues, events, and more.
  • 24/7 Marketing: Wraps make your vehicles rolling billboards seen by tons of potential customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Stand Out: Vibrant full-colour custom graphics ensure your wrap gets noticed, unlike stationary forms of advertising.
  • Cost-Effective: On a cost-per-impression basis, wraps deliver outstanding ROI compared to other ad mediums.
  • Versatility: Wraps can be used on virtually any vehicle, from small coupes to full tour buses.

Now that you understand the basics let’s explore car wrap advertising, its applications, processes, and best practices in more detail.

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Typical Uses of Vehicle Wrap Advertising

Food Truck Vehicle Wrap Examples

One of the great things about wrap advertising is its incredible versatility in usage and applications. Any business, brand, or organisation can benefit from utilising wrap ads in some capacity. Here are some of the most popular uses:

Brand Awareness Campaigns

For companies wanting to boost overall brand recognition and exposure, wrapping a vehicle fleet in dynamic brand messaging, imagery, slogans, and more is an affordable, eye-catching tactic.

Market research shows that a properly designed vehicle wrap can generate over 70,000 brand impressions daily at a fraction of the cost of other forms of advertising.

Whether you run a plumbing company, law firm, clothing brand, or any other venture, wraps can quickly expand brand familiarity and reach.

Advertising & Lead Generation

Many businesses turn to vehicle wraps to advertise special promotions, products, services, locations, contact info, websites, social handles and other sales-driving elements to the masses.

Strong calls-to-action can help motivate impressions to convert into tangible leads and sales. This makes wraps ideal for:

  • Location openings
  • New product launches
  • Events promotions
  • Discount offers
  • Appointment requests
  • Lead generation
  • Driving web traffic
  • Boosting social followers

Delivery Fleet Branding

From food trucks to contractor vans to fleet vehicles, wrap advertising your delivery or service fleet is a no-brainer way to turn them into roving billboards.

You are expanding exposure, and branding work vehicles boost professional credibility and make memorable impressions.

Non-Profit Awareness Campaigns

Charities causes, and non-profit organisations can significantly benefit from car wrap ads to expand public awareness and support their mission from the ground up.

Full bus wraps, in particular, make for extremely high-visibility advocacy thanks to their large surface area and exposure to pedestrian traffic.

Most Effective Vehicle Types to Wrap

Vehicle Wrap Graphics

While any vehicle can be wrapped, some make for better high-visibility advertisement carriers thanks to their size, exposure rates, perceived credibility, and other factors.

Vans & Trucks

Commercial vans and pickup trucks make exceptional car wrap candidates thanks to their large, boxy surface area, which provides ample space for dynamic graphics.

Their workhorse utility also adds an air of authority and professionalism that rubs off positively on the brand or advertiser.

Wrap advertising rates show vans and trucks averaging 40,000-80,000 daily impressions on average, making them very cost-effective.

Buses

Full bus wrap advertising can't be beaten for maximum exposure opportunities and ad real estate.

A typical city bus ad can tally over 30,000 daily views on its morning and evening commuting routes. Factors in midday, weekend, and event transportation and buses provide unparalleled impressions.

Additionally, wraps can cover both sides and the rear of buses, providing the equivalent exposure of multiple stationary billboards in a versatile mobile package.

Motorcoaches & Limousines

For advertisers wanting to reach even wealthier demographics, wrapping extended passenger buses, motorcoaches, limos, and other speciality vehicles frequented by upscale professionals and travellers allows tapping into an exclusive viewership.

Think wrapping:

  • Luxury limo fleets
  • Wine tour buses
  • Event shuttle transport
  • Private aviation shuttles

Exposure rates vary greatly based on usage but can still yield tens of thousands of daily views catered specifically to VIP groups for maximum impact.

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Understanding the Car Wrap Advertising Process

Vehicle Wrap Advertising Las Vegas

Executing a flawless, eye-catching car wrap requires meticulous planning, preparation, design, printing and installation.

It's more complex than slapping a Giant sticker on the side of a van. Numerous steps are involved to transform the vehicle successfully.

Here is an overview of the basic full-wrap advertising process:

Planning & Design

The process starts by determining campaign goals, call-to-actions, target audience, ideal vehicles, geographical locations and other planning criteria. These guide the wrap’s messaging, visuals and flow.

Next, a designer creates a custom wrap layout featuring all graphics, imagery, text, branding and contact information. The best wraps utilise bold, simple designs visible at a distance on the road.

Most wrap pros utilise vehicle templates and advanced design software that renders concepts to scale, allowing clients to preview final results. This enables tweaking elements as needed until the layout is approved.

Printing Vinyl Decals

After the wrap design finishes, the files are sent to a specialist large-format printer outfitted to print the vinyl graphic decals covering the vehicle.

The decals are digitally printed on high-performance cast films engineered for auto exteriors. They stretch and contour to complex surfaces while providing UV protection and durability.

Common materials used are:

  • Cast Vinyl Films: flexible, conformable, rugged and outdoor-rated with up to 12-year lifespan
  • Perforated Window Films: one-way visibility films allowing passengers to see out while displaying ads on windows from the exterior
  • Laminate Overlays: Clear coats protecting full-colour graphics and adding “depth” via glossy or matte finishes

High-quality inks and printers ensure the wrapped design remains vibrant and intact for years despite road abuse and elements.

Installation

Once the vinyl wrap decals arrive, trained installers perform the meticulous application work.

The full exterior installation process alone can take over 40 hours per vehicle to complete correctly. This includes:

  • In-depth Vehicle Prep
    • Washing/claying/decontamination
    • Taping/masking trim
    • Panel smoothing
  • Decal Layout & Plotting
    • Mapping panel, door, window & edge alignments
    • Plotting/cutting vinyl into precise sections
  • Application & Wrapping
    • Spraying mounting solution
    • Applying vinyl graphics from front panels backward
    • Conforming material to every crevice and curve
    • Trimming/finishing all decal edges
  • Review & Finishing Touches
    • Removing bubbles, debris and irregularities
    • Checking for proper adhesion
    • Final clean up and wipe down

It’s incredibly intricate work requiring advanced plotting machinery, specialised tools and keen attention to detail to avoid any visual imperfections in the finished wrap.

Key Factors That Influence Car Wrap Advertising Costs

The costs associated with wrap advertising vary substantially based on the scope of the project, types of vehicles, design complexities, materials used and several other factors.

Broad cost ranges drivers should expect are:

Vehicle TypeTypical Wrap Cost Range
Small Cars & Coupes$2,000-$4,500+
Sedans$3,000-$5,000
Vans$3,500-$7,000
Trucks & Trailers$4,500-$9,000+
Box Trucks$7,500-$15,000
Buses$9,500-$25,000+
Exotics & Specialty$10,000-$50,000+

More specific price influences include:

Vehicle Surface Area

Since wraps are priced predominantly by the square footage of vinyl graphic materials, larger vehicles such as buses and semis carry higher base costs.

Concept Complexity

Elaborate designs, multi-coloured graphics, fine text elements, and contours to work around add production time and expenses that increase costs. Simple colour blocks and text-centric layouts are the most affordable.

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Material Quality

Longer-lasting cast vinyl films, perforated window decals, and protective laminate finishes improve durability but add to sticker prices. Cheaper calendered films save money upfront.

Accessibility

Difficult-to-wrap areas like tall vehicles or those with limited panel access due to shelves, ladders, etc., require more labour hours in padding pricing. Extended cabs, emergency vehicles, and personally owned cars cost more than straightforward commercial fleet vehicles.

While not the cheapest tactic, wraps deliver outstanding reach and return on dollars invested compared to most traditional advertising channels.

Optimising Your Car Wrap Ads for Maximum Impact

Glasgow Vehicle Design

All the planning, design, and installation effort becomes pointless if the wraps fail to communicate messages effectively and compel responses from viewers once on the road.

Here are pro tips for optimising car wrap ads to amplify exposure and results:

Prioritise Design Elements

Only include the essential branding, messaging, offers and calls-to-action that can be quickly and easily digested by passing motorists and pedestrians. Avoid cramming in too many design aspects competing for attention.

Ensure Critical Factors are Easily Visible

Critical details like special offers, phone numbers, locations, addresses, web URLs, QR codes, and calls to action should utilise large, bold font designs visible from a distance and at speed. Avoid fine print and clutter interfering with quick comprehension.

Use Vehicle Body Lines to Draw Focus

Using the vehicle’s existing architecture, like bumpers, headlamps, mirrors, door handles, and other features, to accentuate messages helps draw viewers' eyes to the most critical wrap portions.

Contrast Colours for Added Emphasis

Incorporating highly contrasting colours into the wrap advert strategic elements compared to background hues adds emphasis for quick noticeability. Bright reds, yellows, oranges, fluorescents and whites stand out best on darker base colours.

Include Directional Arrows and Motion Lines

Use directional arrows, streaks, zoom lines and similar graphic elements to grab attention to critical portions of the wrap while conveying forward movement and urgency that translates to calls to action.

Following UX and consumer psychology best practices during the design stages ensures your wraps make hard-hitting first impressions that compel viewers to engage further with your brand after exposure.

A Statistical Look at Car Wrap Advertising Effectiveness

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to proving the power and performance of car wrap advertising for raising brand exposure and driving leads and sales.

Wrapped vehicles provide outstanding advertising ROI across nearly all metrics versus traditional channels like TV, radio, and print. Real data shows:

  • Full bus wraps deliver over 360,000 viewer impressions monthly and 4.3 million annually based on typical city bus routes and schedules
  • Vehicles wrapped for a national car retailer campaign saw showroom visitor traffic increase 147% year-over-year and 31% higher purchase conversions.
  • Charity van wraps tally over 70,000 annual impressions daily, allowing non-profits and causes to reach hundreds of thousands of potential new supporters cost-effectively
  • Wrapped taxi stats show nearly 90% of surveyed passengers were able to correctly recall specific brand or product messages seen on wraps post-ride
  • 78% of consumers indicate that branded vehicle wraps make a company seem reputable and established.
  • Brand recall stats show vehicle wraps scoring roughly 3X higher than mobile and online ads.
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The numbers paint a definitive picture of wrap advertising’s unique ability to combine tremendous ongoing exposure rates with memorable messaging that clicks emotionally with viewers, leading them closer to conversion actions.

FAQs About Vehicle Wrap Advertising

While modern wrap advertising has only emerged over the past decade or so, it continues to grow exponentially in popularity thanks to proven results for advertisers across all categories.

Still, lots of questions and misconceptions remain when it comes to adequately leveraging wraps.

Here are helpful answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Do vehicle wraps damage the car's original paint?

No. Professionally installed vinyl wraps do not damage factory paint. They feature sleek laminate finishes, and pre-masking steps ensure zero direct contact or pulling on the colour during application or removal. Wraps function like a protective car “bra”, shielding the bodywork beneath.

Can car wraps be removed or switched out?

Yes. Wraps feature a semi-permanent adhesive backing, allowing clean removal with heat, chemicals and handling. While designed to last 5-12 years, wraps can be entirely removed or swapped, allowing new designs whenever desired without hurting resale value.

Are vehicle wraps considered distracting or illegal?

There are myths that wrap can dangerously distract other drivers, causing accidents, or that flashy designs are illegal. However, legitimate studies and law enforcement confirm neither claim. Enforcing agencies, specifically state wraps, are no more visually intrusive than legal stationary roadside signs drivers pass daily without issue. There are zero restrictions.

How many wraps can be on a car at once?

There are no limits, but two to four unrelated advertisers are the norm for shared wraps to control clutter. Costs also rise trying to cram too many disjointed designs onto one vehicle. The standard best practice is to feature one primary brand/campaign per side and rear.

Can wraps help my car run on water?

No. Vehicle wraps only display visual graphics and branding. Any dubious claims about other functionality like improving MPG, adding horsepower or enabling cars to run on water are false. No wrap impacts mechanical performance.

Final Takeaways on Car Wraps for Business Marketing

While wrapping fleet and personal vehicles in external full-colour vinyl graphics takes considerable upfront effort and investment, the long-term benefits for brand building, results measurement and advertising ROI are challenging to match.

Other mediums simply can’t compete with the 24/7 exposure, hyper-targeting, campaign flexibility, and tremendous impression rates per dollar that wraps provide daily.

They uniquely combine desirable qualities like:

✔️ Extremely High Daily Reach & Frequency

✔️ Mesmerising Visual Presence

✔️ GPS-Style Targeting

✔️ Brand Credibility Perceptions

✔️ Campaign Adaptability

✔️ Extensive Graphical Real Estate

✔️ Advanced Performance Analytics

✔️ Multi-Vehicle Leveraging

For most advertisers, moving beyond static forms of marketing to embrace rolling ads represents the next evolution in campaigns.

Wrapping as little as a single correctly targeted vehicle can generate hundreds of thousands of prospect views annually for a fraction of traditional costs.

Test the waters starting small via partial budget allocations, pilot fleets or co-brand sharing wrap ad space, then scale efforts upwards as the channel proves itself out with cold, hard, measurable ROI.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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