Bottom Line
It’s Your Business
Here’s your sign

By Donna Ryun
OOIDA Information Services

Did you hear about the guy who made big bucks and gained worldwide notoriety by using eBay to auction off the use of some prime advertising space – on his forehead?

And then there was the pregnant woman who offered her burgeoning belly to the highest bidder as ad space.

Advertisers forked over thousands of dollars to establish product recognition using this unusual innovation. Let’s face it. We are inundated with promotional messages via TV and radio on a daily basis. After awhile, we start to tune them out; however, occasionally, something new and impressive catches our attention, and advertisers hurry to latch onto any medium that can work its way through the clutter.

With consumers being on the go so much of the time, a medium referred to as “truckside advertising” has gained in popularity.

Studies have indicated that advertising that targets drivers, passengers and pedestrians is extremely effective, so it follows that demand for trucks and semitrailers that can be used to display the types of graphic creations that advertisers crave has increased substantially.

Because trucks travel hundreds of miles all over the country every day, it’s pretty obvious that the exposure is there. A great graphic displayed on something as large as a semitrailer is bound to be noticed, so that’s good news for advertisers who are looking for the best bang for their buck. But what’s in it for the truckers?

Recently, I’ve received several inquiries from truck owners who have requested more information on this subject because they are thinking about offering up their trailers as rolling billboards in order to make some extra money.

With fuel prices and other operating expenses being what they are for small-business truckers, it’s not any wonder that they are considering the idea.

However, before rushing in to take advantage of this craze, you’ve got some hard thinking to do. As with any agreement between two or more parties, there should be a contract that specifies the terms in writing, and it’s essential that you are aware of any pitfalls before you allow anyone to use your trailer for ad space.

Often an advertising agency will be the party with which you interact regarding this kind of business venture, and you’ll need to be clear on the terms of payment. The contract should clearly specify whether your compensation will come from the agency or directly from the advertiser.

If payment is to come from the agency, will you have to wait until the advertiser pays them before you get your money? What if the advertiser defaults on its payment to the ad agency? It’s best to avoid this type of arrangement if possible.

The rates, along with any adjustments should be clearly stated within the contract, and the terms should include frequency of payment as well. Duration of service should also be defined within the agreement.

Who is responsible for installation of the advertising display, and what method of installation will be required? Many displays are installed using a self-adhesive technique, while others consist of vinyl graphics combined with a framing system.

There is likely a difference in the labor costs between the two installation methods, as well as the expenses involved with removal of the display, so it’s important to be aware of what this difference will mean if you are responsible for the charges.

How long will your trailer be out of commission while the graphics are applied? Will you be compensated for the lost time? If so, how much? These are terms that should be negotiated and written into the contract.

You will also want to consider the content of the advertising. It’s not only important to make sure that the product or service is legal to advertise in each state that you drive through, but also whether it competes with companies that you are hauling for.

Does the contract allow you to reserve the right to refuse ad content that is libelous or offensive, and/or in violation of copyright or trademark laws? You won’t want to use your trailer for ads that may cause you legal problems down the road.

The contract should specify what happens if your equipment is out of commission because of an accident or mechanical breakdown. Will this constitute a breach of contract on your part or will you be allowed to extend the service period? Get the terms in writing for your protection.

Watch for terms regarding responsibility for repairs in the event the graphic display is damaged in some way. In addition, the agreement will likely hold you responsible for regular truck/trailer washes, so be sure to consider these costs in order to include them in your rates.

The contract may include terms that dictate specific routes that you would be required to take in order to allow the advertiser to achieve its desired exposure, so think about what that would mean for your normal trucking operation. Negotiate for any adjustments that you may need to make, and get any changes written into the contract.

Cancellation terms should be agreed upon and specified within the contract so there are no misunderstandings about which parties can terminate the agreement and for what reasons. What are the penalties that are involved, if any?

It’s only natural to want to take advantage of any moneymaking opportunities that may come your way; however, it’s important to use good business sense in contract negotiations involving truckside advertising in order to ensure that your interests are protected. After all, it’s your trailer and your business.

If you have questions about doing business as an owner-operator and/or an independent trucker, please e-mail them to or send them to PO Box 1000, Grain Valley, MO 64029. We can’t publish all of your questions in Land Line, but you will receive a response, even if your letter is not published.