If you’re in an employment transitional period and experience the thrill of daytime TV, you’ll likely have noticed infomercials that prey upon the broke and uninformed with jingles that convince you to hand over your grandma’s social security checks for one lump sum of cash. If there’s one thing to learn, it’s that free money is never free. However, there are deals out there that allow you to make money without actually doing anything out of the ordinary, and turning your car into an ad space may be one of them.
As a struggling business owner, I tend to live my life by the saying “The universe rewards hustle.” I think it would behoove any hard-on-their luck millennial to take advantage of any and all opportunities, no matter how mundane or unorthodox they may seem - a notion apparently embraced by the public because Uber is a thing. Before the now-ubiquitous ride-sharing app was invented, the only way to get home late at night was to pay lots of money to get into a strange vaguely-puke-smelling-car with a incredibly sketchy driver. With Uber, it’s not as expensive. That’s what we call progress - but I digress.
Recently I was turned on to a quite angrily-worded article on the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Jalopnik site called The Drive. It featured a startup company, aptly named Wrapify, with the company’s focus to wrap regular commuter cars in commercial logos and pay the owners of said rolling billboards based on their daily routes and estimated exposure to the public.
The article in question, ham-fisted as I might have considered it to be, bashed the concept at its core, but also touched on a few points that may bear addressing. That’s why I felt it natural to take the whole damn thing apart piece by piece.
At this point, it’s important to mention that I haven’t tried the Wrapify service in any respect. I’m simply relaying information made available to me through a phone conversation with James Heller, the company’s owner, and making a case based on my experiences in advertising and the automotive space, mixed with my own brand of potent brain droppings.
Without further ado, let’s take apart this nugget of moral indignation:
Wrapify is a new company that doesn’t just think of you as a mere demographic data point— they’ve dehumanized you into vehicular whoredom by paying to wrap your car with advertising, turning your vehicle into a rolling pop-up ad, thus eroding your soul just a little bit more, daily.
If putting an ad on your car dehumanizes you, then the same applies to any piece of clothing you wear with a prominent logo. Advertising happens on various levels, from un-skippable annoying pop-up ads on your favorite free porn site, to the HEMI badge your neighbor paid the dealer to put on his base model Dodge Charger to impress the guys at the office. An advertising company discovering a way to increase exposure for other companies, entities, or events isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and most importantly, it has absolutely no bearing on the person driving the car in this case.
It’s nothing more than petulant moral equivalency bullshit. The only possible erosion you’d have by placing a paying ad on your car would be one of debt, since you’d be receiving a paycheck every month, meanwhile doing nothing you wouldn’t normally do.
Wrapify says that in a densely populated metropolitan area with a 15-30 mile daily commute, drivers could see an average payout of around $470 per month. With the average car payment in this country at just under $500, driving your car as an ad could, in essence, mean that you’re owning a brand new car for free.
As you drive, Wrapify tracks your every move and pays you based on the marketing value of your route and destinations. In other words, at this stage, Wrapify has already decided what you are. They’re just haggling on a price.
Holy hell. First off, any company that pays anything to a person needs to determine that value somehow. For a company that uses cars as advertisements, the number of people on a specific route would be the most logical way to measure the efficiency of a campaign. Of course not everyone will like the advertisement, but just as the ads you’ve likely scrolled through on this very article, the way it works is through having volume and employing the knowledge that a certain percentage of traffic will use the ad as intended.
If I revert to the busted-ass logic used in The Drive’s article, I could say the author’s employer tracks his every keystroke and pays him based on the amount of Facebook comments that don’t include egregious racial slurs. They have already decided what he is, they’re just haggling on price. Does that sound at all reasonable?
Wrapify, claims the average user earns $450 a month this way. Sadly, that’s probably enough to tempt a lot of people, and you can’t blame them. Decent work is hard to come by. Remember when we were afraid of becoming a country where all we did was deliver pizzas to one another? Evidently that’s less lucrative than advertising the idea of delivery pizza to each other.
I read this as: You see, $450 might tempt a lot of the poor pissants that think money is necessary to survive and pay bills, but I know better. Anyway, the important thing is that it’s something that I personally wouldn’t enjoy looking at, so I’m going to crap all over the concept of advertising. Don’t forget to share this on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
Yes, it tempts people in the same way that Uber or Lyft tempt people because it’s a good way of making cash for a broad demographic. It’s also telling that Wrapify’s main audience isn’t the cash-strapped, Skrillex-adoring early 20s crowd, but the getting-their-shit-together young adults between 28-35. Wrapify makes the case that these people are likely to have a family and actual obligations like paying off student loans and mortgages, and tend to care less about what their car’s original factory color is when free money presents itself.
Simply put, it’s all about the bottom line.
However, moral objections aside, there are also non-monetary benefits from having this done to your car. The wraps are high quality 3M or Avery wraps, finished in about a day’s time frame with OEM-certified installers. The procedure is done with knifeless tape instead of old-school box cutters to make sure that none of the car’s factory paint is harmed in any way. Wrapify also pays for all labor for installation and removal.
If an owner opts for a full car wrap, they now have a dedicated layer of protection for their car’s paint from road grime, salt, scrapes, sunburn and the occasional NYC garbage truck love tap. I’ll also quickly mention that the company is led by a die-hard car guy, meaning that there’s a chance that your car could end up with a design that mimics a racing livery, and that ain’t never bad.
However, let’s make the case that you’re not exactly head-over-heels in love with your daily driver and simply want to make extra cash. I’ll illustrate a scenario in which you bought a 2009 Nissan Versa for around $5000 and commuted to and from a decently populated area every day. With a full car wrap installed for a year, your gas miser would’ve paid for its own purchase price, retained its glossy finish underneath - making it more re-sellable - with no negative side effects other than snarky automotive journalists protesting your parking lot every now and again.
For those lucky enough to make the median household income in the country, using Wrapify would be the same as getting a ten percent raise without the stress of having your boss telling you to stay in on Saturday and Sunday. It’s less about driving rolling pop-up ads and more about people taking full advantage of the resources available to them, and that - no matter what hypocritical internet provocateurs say - is never a bad thing.
(Photo Credit: James Heller, Wrapify)