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Marketing on wheels: From Wienermobile to fake out-of-home advertising

US out-of-home (OOH) ad spend will total $9.51 billion next year, and grow past $10 billion in 2026, according to our forecast. One unusual place those dollars are headed is advertising on wheels. That includes transit, taxis and ride-hailing services, and one of the most fun brand marketing tools there is: machines like the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Here are three of the most famous brand marketing vehicles (literally).

1. Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Perhaps the most famous of these street-friendly fixtures is the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, first created in 1936 to roll around Chicago—and later the rest of the country—promoting the company’s hot dogs. The oblong automobile briefly rebranded to the Frankmobile earlier this year, but returned to form in September after outcry from fans at the name change.

The beefy bus remains the premier example of brand marketing on wheels, offering brand recognition in the US and abroad as the world’s most famous wiener on wheels.

A selfie of newsletter writer and editor Sara Lebow with the famous wiener on wheels, parked outside of Advertising Week New York 2023.

2. Planters NUTmobile

The official ride of Mr. Peanut, the Planters NUTmobile, actually predates the Wienermobile by one year. A version of the peanutty pickup first appeared in 1935, but didn’t appear in NUTmobile form until 1999.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. L.L.Bean Bootmobile

Created in 2012, L.L.Bean’s Bootmobile is younger and smaller—but no less mighty—than its meaty, nutty predecessors. The Maine-based company built the big shoe buggy to celebrate its 100-year anniversary. (And yes, the rainboot ride has indeed met the Wienermobile and the NUTmobile.)

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The brandmobiles of the future: Will those four-wheeled wonders soon be a thing of the past? With the up-and-coming concept of “fake OOH” advertising, it’s possible. This summer, Maybelline debuted an unreal (as in literally, it was not real) campaign featuring a bus with eyelashes and a giant mascara wand, created entirely via CGI. With CGI, these branded vehicles don’t actually have to exist to gain buzz.

@maybelline 📣 All aboard the Sky High Mascara Express ✨🚄 After hitting the NYC Streets, we’re taking over London💂🇬🇧 We are on the move with #SkyHighMascara elevating your lash game to new heights🌤️ 🌇 it’s guaranteed to serve limitless lash length 📏 and full volume😍 #Maybelline ♬ original sound - Maybelline New York

Building on an OOH base: 14.4% of US OOH ad spend went to transit in Q1 2023, according to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America. Ads appear on and in buses, trains, and taxis.

Uber and Lyft currently boast a combined user base of 72.0 million people, per our forecast, which has allowed them to expand ad formats from backseat displays to in-app ads. Uber is well ahead in the ad ecosystem right now, but a growing audience for both services means more potential for advertisers.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.