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 ad 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,” explains Sara Cochrane, our energetic 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 truck advertising 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. Midwest Food Trucks is one of our industry partners, supporting many of our food sampling programs. “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 Cochrane. “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. We pride ourselves on offering an organized and cost-effective solution for our customers,” says Wiesen. “We work quickly and stay on budget.”
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.
“We tell people to expect their first design to change,” says Wiesen. “Allow as much time as possible. 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.
Guerrilla Food Truck Marketing
While permitting is always an option, we’ve had great success with guerrilla marketing initiatives.
“Given we own and operate our own food trucks, we have a unique understanding and expertise on how to target and attract consumers,” explains Wiesen.
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.
“The surprise and delight of a guerrilla campaign helps create buzz,” adds Cochrane. “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,” says Cochrane. “One campaign this summer took us from Chicago to Minneapolis, then to Seattle. We’ll go wherever the brand needs us to.”
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,” explains 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 Cochrane. “It’s a win-win for both the consumer and the brand.”
About Midwest Food Trucks
Midwest Food Trucks is a Chicago-based manufacturer of custom food trucks and experiential marketing vehicles. The company launched in 2010 with a team that has over 30 years combined experience in custom vehicle manufacturing and sales. The team is comprised of fabricators, sales representatives, truck porters, drivers and kitchen aids/cooks. With a growing staff and vehicle fleet, the company will be expanding into a new office with a truck yard and facility during Spring 2016. For more information, visit MidwestFoodTrucks.com.