Advertising entrepreneur brings sponsored small cars to Finnish capital for rental
It will soon be possible in Helsinki to rent a tiny Smart car for a 24-hour period for just five euros plus fuel expenses. In exchange for the cheap price, the client will then spend a day as a mobile promoter of the various products advertised on the sides of the vehicle.
“The basic price includes a car, a navigator, and the maximum of 100 kilometres of cruising”, explains managing director Ilkka Tiainen of O2 Media, the company behind the idea.
The entrepreneur will not profit from the five-euro price, but that is not the purpose, either. “Our compensation comes from the advertisers. They are the ones sponsoring the cars and offering the cheap rental rate.”
In return for their investment the advertisers get visibility. “The minimum requirement is that anyone renting one of our cars will drive at least 30 kilometres in a 24-hour period.”
The Smart cars equipped with advertising have been in the Helsinki traffic since the beginning of the year, but only tomorrow will they become available for rental.
The Smart cars are not exactly family vehicles. They can only accommodate two people and a suitcase.
“Our target group is the capital area's young adults without a car of their own”, Tiainen explains.
“The Smart car suits people who have to run several errands in a short space of time. It is hardly ideal for those planning to buy a settee.”
“It is one of the most ecological cars available today, and one can always find a parking place for it”, Tiainen says admiringly.
Tiainen imported the idea from Germany, where he went to school. The cars sponsored by advertisers have been a big hit there, Tiainen says. Nowadays, hundreds of such cars are available in Germany, and the same idea is in use in Austria and Italy as well.
A test drive proves that the little kaleidoscopic bug is handy, but it also draws a lot of attention.
Being pointed at by passers-by feels weird to say the least. Is this too much for the Finnish self-esteem?
“Well, if the Germans, Austrians, and Italians can cope with it, why can’t we?” Tiainen laughs.
A person renting such a car does not have a say in which company’s products he or she will be advertising.
What if a hard-boiled right-wing conservative ends up driving a moving billboard for a social democratic municipal elections candidate – and ends up paying for the privilege?
Tiainen admits the issue has crossed his mind. “Political parties have already made enquiries regarding advertising space, but I still have to give it more consideration.”