Food truck advertising campaigns have been all the rage the past few years. When brands bring free food to the party, people notice! It’s a branding opportunity that adds flavor to your positioning. Serving a delicious treat extends the dwell time you have to connect and engage with your attending audience.
The ‘Food Truck Revolution’ is driving American culture. Many advertisers are finding the fastest way to a consumer’s heart is through his or her stomach. Brands like Gap, Air France, Virgin Mobile and even Katy Perry beauty products have executed food truck advertising campaigns. (See this case study for a food truck campaign by an NBC affiliate.)
It’s in the intersection where food meets wheels that something meaningful occurs.
“Food helps drive one-to-one engagements with consumers,” once said Sara Cochrane, our former experiential marketing manager. “You don’t even have to be a food brand. You just have to find a flavor that will connect a consumer to your company, product or service.”
Our food sampling campaigns are designed to capture someone’s attention and to distribute a free treat on behalf of the brand.
“The consumer is always happy to be offered free food,” says Gabriel Wiesen, co-owner of Midwest Food Trucks. “It is a valid and rewarding reason for the consumer to stop and engage with the street team. It’s the best possible ice breaker.”
For volume, we recommend using grab-and-go food items. Using prepackaged foods also will avoid additional costs, such as health department permits and hiring brand ambassadors with food safe certifications.
Because we’re fast becoming a food truck nation, it’s important for a brand to find a way to be unique. Your branded food truck needs to stand out when executing this type of activation.
“Our team can concept a campaign for you that’s different than all the others,” says Rick Pace, VP Experiential Marketing. “We want to make sure the experience is fun and memorable. And that your brand really pops.”
Planning a truly unique campaign can sometimes take months ahead of execution.
“If you’re able to plan ahead, you can deliver an unexpectedly pleasant experience for consumers,” adds Wiesen.
Designing Your Branded Vehicle Wrap
Getting a branded vehicle wrap can be a daunting and expensive task for most advertising teams. When you find a dependable partner, you can source cost-effective solutions to stay on budget and within a quick turnaround.
The advertiser can take advantage of comprehensive graphic design services. Or, they can use a template to create their own artwork. Either way, we will support them through the entire process. Oftentimes, there are creative changes and multiple rounds of check-ins, so plan enough time to customize the vehicle inside and out. The design must utilize the vehicle appropriately to convey your brand message.
Once the final creative is approved, the wrap will be printed and installed. The entire process typically takes 2-3 weeks. However, expedited turnaround (within 48 hours) is usually available for an extra fee.
We can also design build-out options or add props. The more creative the design, often the more effective the campaign.
The food truck advertising creative takes the brand on the road and adds impressions beyond the food sampling campaign. The branded vehicle raises awareness and provides transportation and storage for campaign assets during non-sampling hours.
Guerrilla Food Truck Marketing
While permitting is always an option, we’ve had great success with guerrilla marketing initiatives. Because we own and operate our own food trucks and sampling vans and have been doing guerilla marketing for over 20 years, we have a unique understanding and expertise on how to target and attract consumers.
Before a campaign, we do a lot of scouting. We learn the key areas of each market. And we identify activation areas in advance that would achieve a high number of impressions and engagements. Or, we select events to be near or key locations based on specific audience demographics and interests.
The surprise and delight of a guerrilla campaign helps create buzz. We want people to tell their friends or to follow a Twitter hashtag to know where the campaign is taking place at any given moment. Moving from one location to another within a market increases the brand’s reach and makes a bigger impact.
We also do food truck tours. One campaign took us from Chicago to Minneapolis, then to Seattle. Another tour visited multiple grocery store locations within the Midwest. Another sent us to many beaches along the East Coast. The food truck advertising campaign can go wherever the brand needs.
Because we’re a fleet management company, we follow the same brand safety practices as we do with any of our other advertising mediums. Our food truck advertising campaigns come complete with in-cab technologies, GPS monitoring and professionally trained driving staff.
Social Capital Payment
Some advertisers use food sampling campaigns with a give-to-get scenario. Sure, you can have this delicious ice cream cone, but you have to do something for us first.
In most cases, it’s a simple post to social media. We call this ‘social capital’ and accept it as payment.
“Twitter has helped launch the food truck frenzy,” explained Cochrane. “People love telling their friends about their awesome food truck experiences, so we don’t usually have to twist any arms.”
Brand ambassadors make it easy, too. They’re trained to engage and excite consumers. They’ll take the picture on a consumer’s own device or can use PhotoMarketing iPads which include upload-to-social buttons.
Advertisers may choose to collect email addresses or ask consumers to trial one of their newest products. If the incentive is rewarding enough, people are usually willing to participate in the ‘give’ in order to ‘get’ their freebie.
“The people we meet on the street are generally happy and upbeat to participate in the experience,” says Pace. “It’s a win-win for both the consumer and the brand.”
Beyond the Food Truck
In addition to the food truck, itself, your advertising campaign can be complete with:
- Food truck management and maintenance
- Food handling, preparation, storage and certifications
- Staffing and complete staff training
- Larger footprint elements, such as tables, seating, branded displays, signage, etc.
- Interactive experiences, in addition to the food sampling, such as a make-your-own T-shirt press or educational kiosk demos
- Swag production, distribution and warehousing
- Customized campaign assets based on your unique goals
- Additional media support, such as mobile display advertising to those closest to the food truck activation
We take pride in offering fully turnkey food truck advertising campaigns. We’ll handle all logistics, routing and activation.
If you’d like to speak with one of our field marketing experts, get in touch.
Originally published October 20, 2015. Updated.