Ads Add a Certain Glow to Atlanta's City Buses

A new 'Glow Skin' bus in Atlanta using electroluminescent lighting. i i

A new "Glow Skin" bus in Atlanta using electroluminescent lighting. As is gets dark, the ads glow and appear to jump off the side of the buses. CBS Outdoor hide caption

itoggle caption CBS Outdoor
A new 'Glow Skin' bus in Atlanta using electroluminescent lighting.

A new "Glow Skin" bus in Atlanta using electroluminescent lighting. As is gets dark, the ads glow and appear to jump off the side of the buses.

CBS Outdoor

There are a dozen buses on the streets of Atlanta wrapped with a new material called glow skin, which gives the ads on the sides of the bus a whole new look.

"You just see this glowing type coming toward you," says Clyde Good, advertising director for real estate company Remax of Georgia. "You rarely see the bus. There's just this message that's floating in the black space toward you."

At the North Springs transit station, Supervisor Charles Sherman answers questions about the bus routes. As riders wait in this large bus pick-up area, just off of a busy highway, many here including Rajeeb Acharya, say they like the idea.

"That is very attractive. Somebody cannot miss it," he says. "If I had a business I would do that."

Another passenger, Brandon Cotton, hopes to see more of the new advertising for a very practical reason.

"A lot of times, there's not many lights on the street at night, so you can actually see the bus coming to you," he says.

The U.S. military developed electroluminescent lighting for use in air strips and to highlight instrument panels on Black Hawk helicopters. It's been used all over the country on snow plows, tractors and construction equipment, to help avoid accidents. It's being used on some billboards. A few days after Atlanta started doing this, the city of Portland followed suit carrying an ad for a giant beverage company on some of its buses.

"You can't really turn very far without seeing some kind of message somewhere," says Emory University marketing professor Reshma Shah.

She says much has changed in the last decade about how people see advertisements. Most of us are not staying at home watching television or reading newspapers, so advertisers need new ways to get their messages across.

"There are studies out there that show we see on average 5,000 to 6,000 messages from marketers in a day. So consumers have to have some way to filter out what they see," Shah says. "Marketers know that consumers are filtering out things, at the same time they are getting more savvy how they get under our perceptual radars."

Atlanta's transit authority, known as MARTA, gets a percentage of the ad revenue in this campaign. The agency's director of marketing, Tony Griffin, says it's too soon to say how much that will be. But he predicts this type of advertising will grow.

"This is probably something more exciting than anything that's come along in the last ten years," he says, predicting that advertisers will be "standing in line" to use the technology.

The question is whether this new form of advertising will translate into increased awareness and revenue for advertisers. REMAX is hoping to gain wide exposure. It expects Atlantans to see the ads more than 240 million times over the next six months.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.