Blank canvas trailers a missed marketing opportunity

A constant frustration of mine is the industry’s lack of imagination when it comes to taking advantage of the 53-ft. billboards most trucking companies are pulling. There are too many plain white trailers out there, and so many wasted opportunities to promote a message or brand.

I won’t paint everyone with the same brush. Highlight Motor Group stands out as an exception – a company that wears its colors with pride, doesn’t let a patch of its trailers go bare, and as a result, stands out on the highway. Even if purple’s not your color, you know a Highlight unit when you see one.

This month, I was encouraged to come across several creative uses for trailer designs that really stood out. You’ll read about one on this month’s cover.

Speedy Transport has designed a Toronto tribute trailer that pays homage to the carrier itself and its Toronto roots, as well as the Toronto Raptors. The timing couldn’t be better, as the entire city – and much of Canada – is in a Raptors frenzy as of this writing.

This trailer is pulled around downtown Toronto on game days and it gets splashed all over social media as it catches the eyes of residents and visitors throughout the downtown core.

Indirectly affiliating its own brand with the success of the Toronto Raptors has enabled Speedy to get a lot of positive attention, as well as to promote the industry.

You can’t see that trailer and not think how ‘cool’ it is, and it’s not often the general public sees trucking as cool. Speedy has another graffiti trailer circling Newmarket and yet another in the works.

A shout-out also, for Bison Transport, for its fleet of about 20 50th anniversary trailers. Rather than simply promoting its corporate milestone, Bison acknowledged its staff by including the pictures of every one of its employees on a trailer-sized collage.

During its 50th anniversary celebrations in Mississauga recently, executive Norm Sneyd attributed the company’s success to its people.

Well, the employee tribute trailer goes beyond mere words and shows the company truly does appreciate the contributions made by its employees. How cool would it be to see your own face splashed on the side of a trailer as it rolls down the highway?

In addition to promoting a brand, or thanking employees, trailer graphics can also be used to promote a cause. There are lots of them out there, one of the most recognizable being the Plaid for Dad trailer that raises awareness about prostate cancer.

It has to feel good as a driver to be promoting awareness about such an important cause rather than pulling a 53-ft. blank canvas behind you, especially if you have a personal attachment to the cause.

Naturally, there’s a cost associated with splashy trailer graphics, and many trailers are shuffled around in trailer pools, but I still feel the vast majority of companies are missing a golden promotional opportunity by pulling Plain Jane trailers.

Next month, we will run photos of the winners of the Private Motor Truck Council’s truck and trailer graphics competition. Let’s be inspired.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Long ago a good friend and Renaissance man, George Doonan from Surrey BC envisioned ‘moving advertising’ on the sides truck trailers headed to Los Angeles and beyond. This was around 1987 and George’s idea was to lure west coast tourists to ‘beautiful BC’ via large moving billboards (tourism is by far the province’s #1 industry). Alas, Tourism Ministry lobbying couldn’t budge a nickel from the government.