Banner Provider Sees Vehicle Rooftops as Mini Billboards

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The new patented vehicle rooftop banner product developed over the past few years is being introduced through: a new web site and several online distribution channels, the announcement of licensing agreements with major college sports and motor sports teams, contracts with national brands focused on the auto dealership market, and the introduction of new packaging for improved retail merchandising.

They don’t launch rockets in Athens, but they do have competitive ideas that reach far outside the box. Big Top Banners, a small company in Alabama, has “big” ambitions–millions of car tops used as mini billboards for promoting sports teams, national brand names, and even retail products, services or events.

The new patented vehicle rooftop banner product developed over the past few years is being introduced through: a new web site and several online distribution channels, the announcement of licensing agreements with major college sports and motor sports teams, contracts with national brands focused on the auto dealership market, and the introduction of new packaging for improved retail merchandising.

Big Top Banners is in negotiation with a number of national merchandisers for volume sales of custom branded banners. It will advertise and directly sell some of its licensed car top banner products through collegiate sports and NASCAR channels, but will mostly depend on third party distributors for consumer sales.

Company officials say they view every vehicle rooftop as a potential “advertising” site. They see a huge market for this new, patented and tested banner product to meet that opportunity as a new advertising/promotional medium. In addition to the millions of team sports fans, one of Big Top Banners’ newest target markets is the 19,000 U.S. auto dealerships. And they’ve targeted sales to national brand organizations which are introducing new products.

The potential use for the new product is extensive. Until recently, the only way for millions of sports fans to show team allegiance was a small car flag, magnet or sticker affixed to the vehicle. Small local companies or businesses, ranging from a realtor to a retailer who wanted to promote its products or services while on the road, could use a magnet, expensive car wrap or a non-reusable sticker to promote their brand. Retailers who wanted to merchandise their products could use a window sticker, printed poster or plastic sign or banner stretched flat across the store front. Politicians who wanted to promote their candidate had to put the custom printed banner on a frame in a truck bed or on a small bumper sticker.

Now, this Athens-based company has introduced the trendy new idea for merchandising – a 16”x38” assembled fabric banner that affixes to the top of any vehicle. In essence, it makes every vehicle a mini-billboard. The banners, which can be custom printed, use a patented frame and high quality two-sided banner for its customers to deliver their message. After a year of testing and development, the Big Top Banners company is ready to officially launch its latest new product. Parts shipments are arriving daily from across the nation and around the world in anticipation of fall sales to sports team fans and producers of national branded products and retailers, including auto dealers.

The major launch comes only months after Big Top Banners, founded several years ago by Limestone County businessman Luke Haggard, hired Timothy Strait as the company’s president and chief executive officer to further develop and manage the company into a dominant player in the promotional banner merchandising market.

As a company, Big Top Banners has been around for several years offering other existing products and testing new ones. But it is only in late 2004 that all the pieces fell together for a major thrust forward for internal growth and a national marketing presence.

“We’re looking at every vehicle top as a potential advertising space,” said Strait. “The potential market of users for this new product is huge. We’re moving sports team fans into a new dimension with a larger car top banner, and we’re opening product brand marketers to a new venue for conveying their message. Every sales rep for virtually any product can take advantage of the big car top banner to convey a branded message. We envision the time when national pharmaceutical companies, auto dealerships and real estate companies use the banners,” said Strait. “The banners even affix to glass and are ideal for offering a new perspective on storefront merchandising.”

“Every retailer from vehicle dealers to point-of-sale or service merchandisers can project a new perspective for a custom marketing or brand promotional theme that stands out in a sea of vehicles or storefronts. Those who choose the new car top merchandising tool can take advantage of the thousands of roadway miles driven by employees. We’re just taking a new perspective on team loyalty. If sports team fans can boast their allegiance to passers by, then businesses can follow suit,” said Strait.

As president and CEO of Big Top Banners, Strait had earlier been involved in the development and launch of a number of successful companies and brands in the Washington DC area. The new product launch initially includes promotional activities on radio stations, Internet media, college and NASCAR team advertising. The big push comes when they launch licensed banner products for Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch and for major collegiate teams.

Big Top Banners has provided products for a number of NCAA collegiate teams, but recently entered into agreements with Auburn University, the University of Alabama and Mississippi State University for officially licensed banner merchandise. “These new banners will offer a new way for sports fans to declare their allegiance by more than a small window flag, license plate or antenna gadget,” said Strait. “The banner affixes to the top of the vehicle, and is ideal for tailgating, too.”

“Over time, Big Top Banners plans to introduce additional unique merchandise. Our immediate next step is to offer licensed banners for more college, NASCAR and professional teams,” said Strait.

“We have big plans for this company,” said Strait. “Our forecast calls for us to ship more than one hundred thousand custom banners in 2006 toward our goal of one million banners. Once people see their application for cost-effective merchandising, we think a lot of people, especially national organizations, will take note of the possibilities for this new product.”

“Creative people in marketing, advertising and public relations agencies will find many uses for this new promotional tool. Small organizations can promote events from the car tops of staff and board members. Larger establishments can promote brands or specials from the tops of its fleet vehicles,” said Strait.        

Big Top Banners just entered into a merchandising licensing agreement with General Motors for the banner’s use as a new perspective in auto dealer sale promotion. They are also newly licensed by XM Satellite Radio to make the banners available as a sales merchandising tool for auto dealers.

The company also reached a licensing deal with Hendrick Motorsports to provide its products to fans of the team’s five NASCAR drivers which include some of NASCAR’s top ranked drivers. “The new banners are expected to be a popular item on the rooftops of vehicles at every NASCAR event,” said Strait.

“This is a totally innovative product. There simply isn’t anything remotely like it,” the new CEO said. “While we’re focusing on several target markets: sports fans, automotive and retail, the potential for its use by others is unlimited. Our unique plastic frame and fabric banner assemble in seconds, while our easy to use suction cup system protects one’s car from damage. The product is great looking, functional, long lasting. It’s easy to install, store and change messages. It will create a lot of pizzazz for people looking for a new way to merchandise their message,” said Strait. “We’ve put in the necessary R&D to get us to where we want to be. We’re ready to take off big time.”

The new banner products will be available through independent distributors or may be ordered directly from the company’s web site: http://www.bigtopbanners.com. About 50 commonly used retail and sports banner themes are now available and custom banner messages or promotional brand labels can be ordered in quantity.

Formed in 2003, Big Top Banners is a wholesale manufacturer and marketer of high-quality promotional banners, banner related vehicle accessories and related services delivered direct and through independent distributors.

Contacts:

Tim Strait, President & CEO

Big Top Banners: (888-8BIGTOP) 888.824-8674 or 256-216-9350

For the Client:

Charles Barnette, APR    

Barnette & Associates Public Relations: 334-277-3133

Photo Attached:

Big Top Banners, a small company in Alabama, has “big” ambitions–millions of car tops used as mini billboards for promoting sports teams, national brand names, and even retail products, services or events.

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Tim Strait