E-caps, which debuted in Singapore, are a product of Kobe Eco Car Pascal Laboratory in Japan. E-Caps North America, Winnipeg, Canada, is the exclusive North American distributor. It launched e-caps in Los Angeles in May and has had success there, according to marketing director Ed McCullins.
Prime Outdoor, Toronto, a media rep firm, is selling e-caps for E-Caps North America. Ross Dann, Prime Outdoor's president, says he made the Yahoo! deal by talking with Yahoo! and its ad agency, Bates Canada. He sold a ten-week package on 100 cabs. The cost to Yahoo! -- $250 per cab per month. The cost to other clients will vary depending on the number of cabs and the duration of their programs, Dann says.
Bates Canada is using e-caps as part of an outdoor campaign. Transit shelters, vertical posters and digital screens in office elevators are also being used. "We want to build brand image and awareness through the media," says Lynn Mayer, Bates director of media planning. She's happy to be the first to use e-caps in Toronto. "Novelty generates word of mouth. Yahoo! will build off the media buzz from hubcap advertising," she says.
Isabelle Hemond, Yahoo! Canada's brand manager, says Yahoo! likes e-caps because they're different. "Whatever hasn't been done before, we jump on it," she says. Yahoo!'s e-caps are purple with yellow lettering with the Yahoo! Canada logo and the familiar tag line, "Do you Yahoo?"
The cabs come from a variety of companies. Dann says there is a core of six or seven top cab companies in Toronto he's working with. The idea is to work with different companies to find out which are best for future efforts. The companies receive a fee for running the e-caps, but Dann wouldn't say how much they get.
He's convinced e-cap ads will work. "They're so eye-catching," he says. "Cabs have been used for a long time and they're very successful. The reaction has been good, there's a lot of finger pointing."
He is trying to sell e-caps to other clients but says winter is a bad time, so he'll focus on programs that will begin next March.
In the meantime, he's extremely happy that Yahoo! is the first client. "We needed a launch client and Yahoo! was one that will help us maintain the business."
Dann says no studies have been done to determine how many people in Toronto will see the e-caps. Cabs in New York City generate 40,000 impressions per day. Cabs in Toronto travel close to 300 miles a day in heavily trafficked areas, so Dann believes they'll be highly visible. "The strength is they go where the crowds are, so people see them."
McCullins says Vancouver will be the next city for e-caps. It is trying to get approval from the chief of police, which is needed there.