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What’s wrong with a little extra cash??

I ran across a really interesting article today in The Capital Times, a Madison, WI publication, profiling the city’s partnership with Adams Outdoor Advertising to promote full-wraps of up to 15 of its metro buses. While bus wraps aren’t exactly “news” in and of themselves, the arguments against them really caught my attention.


According to the article, the city stands to make up to $553,000 the first year if all alloted 15 buses are wrapped for the full year. At the very least, conservative projections indicate Metro will make more from these wraps than they have ever made in the past from advertising. While I admittedly don’t know the Metro transit financials, I have to suspect that whatever that final number ends up being will come in handy to offset operating expenses.

And looking at the roster of advertisers they already have in the works (GM, Lexus, Charter Communications and Miller Brewing, among others), you know the quality of the creative will be first class (check out the MGD wrap above). Nothing against the transit folks, but you have to admit the MGD bus above looks a heck of a lot better than your typical plain-jane offering!

Of course, this last advertiser (Miller Brewing), is what irked some Madison residents who petitioned the city council to ban alcohol and gambling related ads…despite the fact that ads for both have been appearing on the buses for years and the wrapped versions aren’t traveling down school routes.

While some readers mentioned their opposition to casino and alcohol advertising, the greatest debate was over “visual pollution.” Somehow there are actually Madison residents who would rather see tax dollars raised than have to look at an ad on a bus! I wonder if their votes would echo their online posts….

The fact is, if we want to continue enjoying the free public services available in our communities, cities/counties/states are going to have to bring in revenue to pay for them. If we don’t want to be taxed to death, then we have to encourage our governments to get creative. Selling advertising space on buses, manhole covers, crosswalks, and any other place it makes sense is a great way to bring in additional income. With some common sense and prudent deal-making, these executions can be a win-win for everyone involved. The municipalities increase their revenue stream, advertisers extend their effective reach, and the ads (if done well) can even be entertaining pieces of art.

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