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CATA Buses Turn Into Rolling Billboards

You may have noticed that some CATA buses have a new segment of the local ad market all wrapped up.

Two of the transit agency’s buses are now covered in bumper-to-bumper ads that even go over the windows.

The view from inside appears unobstructed because the ads are perforated and appear to be translucent.

It’s part of a year-long trial program which CATA hopes will increase bus advertising revenue.

Those first two buses hit the streets in February, featuring ads for the Penn State Employee Credit Union (PSECU) and The Park at State College.

If things work out, up to four buses will be covered in the distinctive ads which are sold and maintained by OnCity Advertising. The company helps advertisers target college students and says it reaches 95 percent of the nation’s university campuses.

Workers from OnCity are responsible for installing the “full bus wrap” ads. It takes six to eight hours to cover an entire bus. CATA Marketing Manager Jacqueline Sheader calls the process “pretty amazing.”

“The ads are not permanent but rather vinyl ‘stickers,’” she says, adding, “The ads will come off at the end of the contracts and these buses will look as they did previously before the wraps went on.”

OnCity Advertising General Manager John Flynn says his company has been managing CATA’s advertising program for several years. He calls the full wraps the “ultimate” in transit advertising, adding that it, “brings the client a huge amount of impressions and is great branding.

“We have seen riders watch and let buses pass so they can ride the wrapped bus. Even drivers have cued up to take turns to drive the wrapped bus.”

Bill Baer has been a CATA bus driver for 35 years. Sitting behind the wheel of a wrap ad bus, Baer says the billboard-sized messages are getting a lot of attention. “I’ve had a chance to talk to a lot of my customers and most of them think it’s a good idea.

“When I drive I forget it’s there. I see people staring at my vehicle and I have to remember there’s advertising going on out there,” he says, chuckling.

Baer thinks the ads will help grow the State College economy. “I’m a big supporter of  local businesses,” he says. “I wish more folks would get involved in this type of advertising. I think it’s a good way to go.”

CATA is still looking for two additional advertisers willing to market their businesses using the wrap ads. If four buses get the wrap-around-ad-treatment, Sheader expects CATA to earn about $50,000 dollars in additional revenue.

Results will be evaluated later in the year and CATA officials will decide then whether to continue or even expand the ad program.

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