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."
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
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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.
CASE STUDY: NESCAFE
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
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