For almost one hundred years, promotional cars have been capturing our imagination. Here’s a selection of some of the best.
Marketing mobiles have been around for the best part of a century, one of the earliest examples being a 1921 Ford Model T fitted with a giant shoe to promote London-based shoe shop The Children's Shoemaker. However the promotional vehicle that inspired imitators for years to come was Oscar Mayer's inimitable Weinermobile. Today an eclectic mix of companies from Peepster through Lindt to Zippo has jumped on the marketing bandwagon, with their weird and wonderful creations roaming the highways ensuring their products remain firmly fixed in our consciousness.
Invented in 1936 by Oscar's nephew Carl G. Mayer, the Wienermobile has evolved over the years with massive hot dogs topping a range of different cars. Today there are six such vehicles in existence being driven about the US and beyond as part of Oscar Mayer's Hotdogger program that launched in 1988.
Recently, L.L. Bean celebrated its 100th anniversary by bringing together promotional cars in Freeport, Maine, where the outdoor outfitter is based. The event at Discovery Park included a campfire for roasting Oscar Meyer wieners, and photo opportunities with the unique cars including L.L. Beans very own Bootmobile, the Peepster Beetle, the Lindt Smart and of course, the Wienermobile.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy company Just Born, responsible for Mile and Ikes and Peanut Chews has a large bus that tours the nation, as well as this small promo-car for its Peeps marshmallows. The bright yellow Beetle is topped by a five-foot tall yellow marshmallow chick and can often be seen cruising around the tri-state area.
Launched in 2004, Swiss chocolatier Lindt created five Gold Bunny Easter-Smart Cars to drive around with their trunks fully loaded with chocolate bunnies. Over the years the tasty looking cars have been spotted across Europe and the US, most recently at the aforementioned L.L. Bean celebration. Apparently the ears and bells can be easily removed, and are duly replaced by reindeer accessories for Xmas.
The original Zippo Car, a Chrysler New Yorker with two massive lighters shooting neon flames, was built in 1947 for $25k, and used for fairs and expos before it mysteriously disappeared during the Fifties. Zippo commissioned a replica of the original Zippo Car, unveiling it in 1998, and just last year West Coast Customs built a one-off Zippo Car as a "mobile product showcase" with Zippo logos on the doors, a cool black and red interior design, blacked out wheels and a rear flat-screen TV. The Zippo Vehicle debuted at the 2011 Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International and also featured in an episode of "Inside West Coast Customs."