MOBILE UNITS: Kings of the road - The foot-and-mouth crisis has hit the trailer industry forcing some companies to alter the kind of work they undertake. Sara White reports on the new wave of summer campaigns as companies look to tour the UK

The mobile unit sector is gearing up for the summer season with a

raft of orders for innovative units to promote products ranging from

weather stations to petrol.

The sector has not avoided the impact of the foot-and-mouth crisis as

the cancellation of agricultural and county shows hits orders. SVB

operations director Simon Thompson says: "The industry is being

decimated by foot and mouth. Mobile units go to agricultural shows and

point-to-point and these have all been affected by the crisis. It is

making people rethink their marketing position. That is the biggest

challenge facing us."

Changing market

Mobile Promotions general manager Simon Pauffley says: "Foot and mouth

has changed the type of work we have been doing since the start of the

year. Our business is very much oriented towards outdoor work at

agricultural shows, but over the past couple of years we have been

moving into other areas, such as shopping centre displays. We have been

working extremely hard to find other areas for clients to exhibit in and

they have responded well to the changing market.

"In June we are doing a sampling campaign for Smash, starting at the

National Motorhome Show. We are working with Proactive Solutions and the

campaign runs until Christmas. It is a two-pronged project for HL Foods

and the trailer has interchangeable graphics. We are promoting Smash and

HP Bean meals. We can switch the graphics in half an hour. HL Foods had

wanted to attend agricultural shows, but instead we went to city centres

shows including ones in the Wirrall and Liverpool."

The company is also midway through a promotional exercise for Chrysler

to launch the Voyager Cruiser and this promotion is touring shopping

centres nationwide.

Another company that has been affected by foot and mouth is VIP

Exhibitions. Sales director Calvin Townsend says: "Foot and mouth is

affecting the business but not too badly. New-builds are being postponed

and this has hit us as we tend to manufacture a large number of units

every year. Most cancellations have come from units that were designed

for use in the horse-racing industry.

"The company designs and builds unique vehicles for customers. We have

built some units for car transporters, a unit for a stairlift company

and a motorbike racing team transportation unit. We have also designed a

one-off unit for One-2-One and workshop units for a karting team.

Business is buoyant - it is surprising." VIP has a team with knowledge

and experience of engineering, glass fibre technology, marine

manufacturing and transportation. The company was set up in 1985 making

static exhibition stands in a 232 sq m unit. Its blue-chip customers

travel nationally and internationally using showmobiles to display,

train, promote and demonstrate both indoors and outdoors.

The company creates the units on site from the manufacture of modules

and components to the application of paint and state-of-the-art


Another of the projects the VIP team has worked on is a fully corporate

branded telecinema. With hydraulics technology the trailer is made into

a fully interactive experience. There are 12 seats where people can sit

and watch a film, video, advertisement, 3D ride or computer game. Sound

is projected from huge speakers behind the screen.

Corporate entertainment

The units might house anything from a radio roadshow to a 50-seat

training centre, from product sampling to corporate entertainment or

from a flight simulator to a Grand Prix control centre.

Marketing Vehicle Logistics is organising a summer-long promotion for

the Met Office. It has constructed a weather station with plasma

screens. It is a six-metre trailer that opens out to a broadcast weather


Lynton Showpoint Group's management service will handle everything from

storage, valeting, delivery to the venue, siting, display preparation

and staffing. Clients include Granada, Brennan Atkinson, Southwest

Water, Associated News and Manchester United.

Experienced staff

With more than six years' experience the company is able to supply more

than 200 experienced staff for all events, including exhibitions and

hospitality. For larger projects an event manager is assigned to the

job. All quotations are supplied with scaled computer drawings and

assistance is provided where planning permission is required. Lynton

also uses digital imaging using a process that enables intricate

photographic images to be accurately transferred on to a range of


A Lynton spokesman says: "We've built a quantity of small promotional

units for Guide Dogs for the Blind to use in a fund-raising campaign

across the country this summer. We have had a long relationship with the

charity, but this year they have scaled down the size of trailers and

designed them so they have more impact using colourful graphics. We have

also done work for the National Canine Defence League, creating

dual-purpose units to use on roadshows."

Event Marketing Solutions (EMS) is working on a project for MacMillan

Cancer Relief. The charity chose a lightweight articulated unit, because

an HGV vehicle would have found it difficult as access is limited in

some sites. The nationwide campaign started in April and runs until

October. Most of the locations are in city centres, schools and


The company is also working on a project for Formula One, creating

interactive displays at the Motor Show. EMS managing director Keith

Austin says: "Business is quite slow at the moment. We have had a number

of enquiries, but it is difficult to understand why things haven't come

to fruition. Maybe it is because funding has not been made available. It

is difficult to know which projects would have gone ahead if it had not

been for foot and mouth."

A relatively new player in the market is Special Event Services (SES),

which was set up three years ago. The company does a reasonable amount

of work in Europe and this month has launched a campaign for a Turkish

satellite company which will promote the country's national lottery. SES

also does all the refurbishment work for Benetton Formula One units for

use at Grand Prix circuits. One of the company's major projects is an

ADSL promotion for BT using Internet pods. It has been created in a

12-metre truck that opens out and is very high-tech. The interior is

decorated with colourful pictures of computer systems.

SES managing director Peter Whitby says: "We are also working on a

project for the Department of Transport which is going live in June and

will be travelling around the country. It is designed to encourage

people to walk and use public transport instead of taking their cars. It

will run until the end of the year. We have also designed a unit for

Utell Sat, which is part-owned by BT. This unit will be going to Turkey

for a five-month promotion. It is capable of live broadcasts."

University tour

Professional Exhibitions has produced a pounds 800,000 vehicle for

Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting, designed to recruit graduates.

The mobile vehicle, which includes plasma screens started touring the

universities in January as part of a three-year contract. The unit is

also being used as a billboard with sponsorship and for client


The company is also working on a project for Arthritis Care, touring 43

venues across the country from March to November.

Professional Exhibitions managing director Jonathan Austin says:

"Business is good. There is lots of activity although a lot of the

industry is struggling because of foot and mouth. We are slightly more

broad-based because we are not as heavily geared to agricultural shows

as we were five years ago. Ultimately we're trying to get the best value

for money by using new locations. We have lost ten events because of

foot and mouth but we are looking at how clients can redirect their

marketing spend."

One of the company's biggest clients is Peugeot where the aim is to

attend new and innovative events. For this reason Peugeot will be taking

a complicated unit to the Edinburgh Festival.

Motivation specialises in mega units such as 12-metre trailers as well

as organising everything from sourcing vehicles, planning itineraries

and delivering the unit to the display point. It has produced a double

trailer for IBM that spends the entire year touring Europe for training

purposes and has also worked with Mobil and BP.

Complex exercises

Motivation director Jeremy Kenyon says: "For BP we designed a

classroom-style unit. It was refurbished and a wooden floor was fitted

and high-tech lighting installed. The unit is touring Greece doing a

complex series of training exercises.

"We are also working with Canon on a sales-oriented campaign that runs

until July. The tour is promoting digital imaging and demonstrates how

digital camera pictures are converted to video," he adds. "The 6m unit

tours hotels and is matched with relevant exhibitions. The mobility of

trailers attracts people, the next morning it can be in another


Masters Exhibitions has been hard hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis with

29 shows cancelled. Account manager Mary Warway says: "We operate

banking units for HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB. We are

trying to promote ourselves at roadshows to create work to replace what

we have lost.

"We have had some interesting roadshows recently. We had to build a

Noah's Ark which was exhibited at shopping centres around the UK. It was

designed to promote a popular toilet paper brand. It ran for a month

covering four different events.

"We also designed a beach theme for Californian wine company, Ernst &

Gallo. The unit is travelling all around the country and was launched in

late May. This will run for two years promoting various brands. It is a

very colourful display unit with steps and portholes and stunning


David Wilson Trailers is running a major campaign for Cisco Systems

which is touring all around Eastern Europe and South Africa. Sales

director Jim Copeland says: "Business is going well. There has been a

downturn in spot hire but it is beginning to pick up. We are also doing

a major tour for a world airline which is travelling around Eastern

Europe. We provide a skilled driver operator to set up the unit in the

various locations."

Conway has designed special decontamination units for the Health and

Safety Executive to promote new legislation. It also does substantial

work for Manchester Police Force which wanted to place units in

troublesome estates to build better community relationships.

The range of mobile units available on the market means marketers can

create innovative and creative display points which can reach a large

audience as they travel around the country.


VIP Exhibitions was briefed by Nescafe to create a mobile, reusable,

self contained unit. It would have a ground level serving height to

overcome the difficulties of public access. The display would be robust,

interesting and most of all reflect the quality of the product.

The display would operate internally and externally, be fully

self-contained and have a long operational life. The unit would have the

capacity for the display and carriage of product samples and water from

local sources. Security both on site and in transit needs to be taken

into consideration.

A Mercedes 917 offers a compact base upon which the trailer is

displayed. A generator is housed at the rear of the body to

counterbalance the water tanks. The full coverage graphics mean the unit

will be used for promotions 365 days a year.

The body is constructed with materials similar to a refrigerated vehicle

- this helps to control the interior climate. The extending hydraulic

canopy offers cover from the sun and rain, while the public are sampling

the product.

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