Brian Bonitto, Special Assignment Editor
The Jamaica Urban Transport Company (JUTC) is on a drive to increase its revenue. This route involves increasing advertising on its buses.
"Your messages will go all over," said Reginald Allen, corporate communications manager at JUTC. "And, with chartered buses, they go all over the island. It's a billboard on wheels."
The communications point man was unable to say how much the state-run bus company received in revenue from advertising last year. He, however, sees it as a very significant income source.
"It's a lucrative business and has the potential to make well over $50 million per year for the company," Allen said.
He said the adverts were extremely popular and "have expanded" to include telecom providers, pharmaceutical products, beverage providers and retail stores.
Michael Ammar, head of local retail clothing chain Ammar's, said his company has gained a lot of traction from advertising on the state-run buses.
"I was among the first people to advertise on the buses," said Ammar. "When I approached them at first, they were a little apprehensive ... this was about late 1990s to early 2000s."
The businessman said the ads were not only cost- effective compared to print and radio, but got his messages out to the public effectively.
"Not a lot of Jamaicans read the papers," he said. "Buses are in the most congested parts of the cities ... People can see my messages two to three times per day. You can't do that with a paper."
JUTC's Allen said advertisers with smaller budgets need not feel left out as they were introducing something for them.
"We have some new buses where adverts can be placed inside for a short period ... say three weeks. And, these messages have the flexibility to change," he continued.
The JUTC spokesperson said the cost of the adverts depended on the sizes and duration.
"Individual contracts can run into hundreds of thousands annually at the upper end, but far less for smaller ones," he said.
The communications spokesperson was quick to point out that the JUTC did not handle the actual placing of adverts on buses, as this was outsourced to an advertising agency.
"National Outdoor Advertising Limited has been our provider in this regard," he said.
Despite the project's growing success, Allen said his company was shifting it focus.
"We're moving away from the full wrap of buses," he said. "While this is popular, it runs counter to Government's colour-coding policy."
He said the colour-coding policy requires all JUTC buses to eventually be painted yellow and full wrapping would not allow for this.
"Advertisers now have the option for the sides, backs and the insides of the buses to carry their messages."
He said the company's new move would not detract from getting messages out.
"You're bound to get high visibility," said Allen.
Efforts to speak to a representative from National Outdoor Advertising Limited were unsuccessful.