Take the day-to-day responsibility of running a 1,850 strong fleet of vans and any fleet manager will confirm that it is a job and a half.
Add to the equation having to simultaneously livery 85% of the vehicles and an idea starts to form of the responsibilities of BSkyB’s Ann Hershaw.
Over the past 18 months, the commercial fleet manager has had to co-ordinate the delivery to engineers of the brand new fleet of Vauxhall Vivaro vans.
The company first adopted the concept of using vehicles for mobile advertising four years ago when the last batch of new vans were wrapped featuring services the company offered rather than just displaying the name of the organisation.
Ann says: “BSkyB’s marketing team that funds the initiative took the view that having vans placed strategically across the country represented a highly cost-effective method of advertising.”
The logistics of having BSkyB’s vans wrapped starts 18 months prior to delivery when it is decided which manufacturer is to provide them.
Once this has been decided, a programme of activities is put together by BSkyB’s procurement, fleet, engineering and marketing teams working in conjunction with the vehicle provider, leasing company and Fenn Graphics, which carries out the actual wrapping of the vans.
The content of the wraps (11 different ones were used as part of the most recent rollout) is decided by the marketing team and can represent anything from new programmes being screened to specific services being launched.
After a range of designs are agreed upon, the artwork is outsourced to a specialist provider with various demonstration copies being produced, some of which do not make it as far as the wrapping stage.
“It is important to take into account how the wrap will look on the van,” says Ann. “If it doesn’t sit right, given the shape of the vehicle, the effect of the message may be lost.”
This is why, when it comes to applying the wrap, the process is done by hand akin to the concept of wallpapering which, although highly labour intensive, is essential to ensure the finished product looks professional.
The majority of the wraps stay on for the three-year lease period with the only exception being if a van is involved in an accident. In such situations, depending on the extent of the damage, the wrap may be replaced due to dents and bumps in the bodywork distorting the wrap’s design.
Wraps are also changed when a high profile event, such as the last football World Cup, is staged when some vans in England were wrapped with the flag of St George.
This means a temporary wrap being used for a specific period on a selected number of vans – around 20 vans are earmarked for up to six different wrap changes per year.
“The flexibility of being able to use a small number of vans as and when required for promotional purposes, such as when the new television series of Lost was about to be screened, means that while costs can be managed the message is still being seen by a large proportion of the viewing public,” explains Ann.
For all the benefits vehicle wrapping may bring, minimising the downtime of vans is an important factor to consider.
The process takes around two hours but by combining this, as BSkyB does, with the rollout of new vans, engineers are only out of commission for half a day.
A further issue is planning for the wrapping of the 300 or so vans that are outside the normal leasing cycle – needing to be replaced after having been in accidents or for new engineers starting work.
To try to streamline this process, it is planned to have several locations throughout the country where vans, already liveried, can be stored ready for the road.
One of the downsides to the concept of using vehicles as an advertising tool is in respect of changes to corporate branding mid-way through the wrap’s life cycle.
As Ann explains: “The recent rebranding of the company meant the cost of adding a new strapline to the vans was considered. But it was decided that it wasn’t cost-effective to do and would have impacted
on engineers’ work schedules.”
That said, though, the positives certainly appear to outweigh the negatives if research is to be believed that a liveried van is seen by up to 3,000 people per hour in a busy area.
And, as Neil Patton, national sales manager for Fenn Graphics, comments: “Wrapping can afford protection to a vehicle’s paintwork resulting in higher residual values when decommissioned.”
‘Having vans placed across the country is a highly cost-effective method of advertising’