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Garbage truck advertisements OK'd in Hollywood,
but with taste, no trash.

By Robert Nolin
From the Sun Sentinel, September 30, 2004

HOLLYWOOD · City commissioners have found a trashy way to raise extra cash: advertisements on garbage trucks. But the ads, of course, must be tasteful.

The idea, dreamed up by city staffers as a way to make money, would see ads of varying size on the broad bellies of Hollywood's 36 garbage trucks. Prohibited, however, would be ads for what the city deems unsavory businesses, such as topless bars, tattoo parlors, adult emporiums or pawnshops.

The city would stand to gain more than $100,000 a year through a 60 percent cut of the ad sales, and up to $729,000 over five years.

"It's just an opportunity to generate additional revenue. Why not give it a shot?" said Commissioner Cathleen Anderson. "These monies will be generated in the city of Hollywood, and these monies will stay in the city of Hollywood."

Mayor Mara Giulianti said the ads could bring a touch of brightness to otherwise drab work trucks. "Garbage vehicles aren't beautiful," she said. "I think they're more attractive with the signage."

But not all commissioners were sold on the concept.

"I really don't like the idea of any single city vehicle having advertising all over it," Vice Mayor Beam Furr said. "It really does cheapen. For $100,000, I don't think it's worth it."

Commissioner Peter Bober agreed that profit shouldn't be a deciding factor. "I don't think we should be motivated solely by money," he said.

Furr, Bober and Commissioner Sal Oliveri were on the losing side of a 4-3 vote approving the ads. Giulianti and Anderson were joined by commissioners Keith Wasserstrom and Fran Russo in endorsing the concept.*

A Hollywood marketing firm, VisionBurst Inc., was awarded the contract to pursue advertisers and create ads for the trucks. Company President Avi Frier said a traffic study showed the trucks would be seen by about a million people a month.

But then, what kind of companies would slap an ad on the side of a garbage truck?

"You have the obvious ones, which are air fresheners or garbage bags," Frier said. But with the right pitch, any product or service could utilize the novelty of being on a trash truck and be worth the $250 a month for a sign, he said. A soft drink company could show pictures of empty cans and urge people to recycle. Or a bank, Frier said, could display its logo along with this admonition: "If you're not depositing your money with us, you might as well be carrying it in one of these."

"It's not the kind of advertising that's going to be received in a positive way at the beginning," Frier said. However, "if you spin it right, it could really be cute."

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

* Corrected from the original text of the article.