Since gas prices began their rocket-like trajectory in late April the U.S. media has beaten a path to Jobing’s Phoenix headquarters. The brilliantly colored employee cars with the name Jobing.com prominent on all sides have appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS and, by virtue of CNN’s news syndication, you’ve probably seen them on your local TV station, too. Then there’s the newspaper coverage, including The New York TImes, Wall Street Journal, Denver Post and scores of other newspapers.
“Interesting an advertisement got us all this attention,” says an understated Joe Cockrell. As director of public relations for Jobing.com, he’s received hundreds of emails and phone calls, not only from the media, but also from other companies who want to know more about how the program works. “We put the program description up online” he says to reduce the call volume. Several video clips from the news broadcasts have also been posted.
The company won’t discuss the cost of the program except to say that wrapping the car in the vinyl billboard runs between $3,000 and $4,000 and lasts about three years. Employees are paid a $500 monthly fee and the company covers all their gas whether for business or personal travel. Cockrell told us that 61 percent of the 220 eligible employees take advantage of the program, which requires them to first take a safe driving course and keep a clean driving record.
By our calculation, the program costs Jobing.com at least $67,500 a month, not counting the gas. Add that in and the program approaches $1.2 million annually. (Here’s how we figured it: The Department of Transportation says the average American household uses about 600 gallons a year per vehicle. At a national average today (July 1) of $4.10 per gallon that works out to an additional $205 per employee per month or a monthly total of $95,175.)
What’s the ROI on the program? “I’m trying to figure that out,” Cockrell told us when we spoke with him. “It’s very difficult to isolate one marketing vehicle from everything else we do.” For instance, Jobing also has its name on a sports arena in Arizona, buys billboards (the non-mobile kind) by the dozens and gets its name on highway signs by sponsoring roadside cleanup.
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Still, Cockrell is reckoning the value of the TV and print exposure alone at $1.5 million at a minimum and probably closer to $2 million.
The auto wrapping program was launched in 2001when founder and CEO Aaron Matos was looking for an inexpensive way for the fledgling 10-person company to get noticed. Starting with just a few cars, Jobing expanded the program as it expanded beyond its Arizona roots. Today wrapped cars can be found in every metro area where the company has an office.
Besides the national media exposure, which was an unexpected bonus, the mobile billboards help generate traffic to the Jobing.com websites. Compared to the cost of buying TV time or other billboards (in Los Angeles a high impression billboard along a busy freeway can cost $10,000 or more a month), the car wrap program is relatively inexpensive.
One a personal note, Cockrell told us the car wrap program is responsible for his current job. He had moved to Phoenix and was looking for a job when he spotted a Jobing.com car. He went to the site, discovered Jobing was looking for a PR director and applied.