“How I Got in the Billboard Business” – Owners share their stories. Rod Collins of Bulldog Mobile Billboards
Rod Collins started Bulldog Mobile Billboards after 20 years in the hotel business in 2006. I took my severance from Hotels.com, who moved headquarters from Dallas to London, and put a down payment on a scrolling billboard truck, hired a graphics company to design a logo and website. Today we have 11 vehicles including the glass-walled display trucks, vinyl billboard trucks, and LED trucks, marketed with three websites.
What is your first memory of having an interest in the advertising industry?
From an experiential marketing perspective, I first was intrigued at a Taste of Chicago event in the late ’90s. Kellogg’s Cereal was handing out free boxes of a new product. People could not walk by the freebie brand ambassadors dressed in Aprons were handing out without taking their sample. The box of goodies tasted great, smelled good, and had a coupon for future redemption. Home Run Marketing.
What led up to you deciding to start an out of home advertising company?
I searched for a franchise to buy and narrowed it down to five with a franchise advisor who surveyed my strengths and interests. But I was doing my own due diligence too and found a small industry of glass-walled scrolling trucks I thought would work with what I brought to the table. I wanted to avoid some of the rules and fees found in franchise systems so I paid what I thought was a premium on my first two trucks.
What is one of your favorite projects/campaigns you’ve worked on?
I never could have guessed that my trucks would be used for countless TV shows, commercials, and movie promotions. Last summer we promoted the Where’s Waldo TV show and it was quite the tour.
Is there a funny or unique story you care to share with the community?
With the onset of the pandemic, I was approached by a DJ to shoot a promotional video in one of my glass-walled trucks. Within two days, we started doing 15-minute Driveby Entertainment dance parties. We drive to people’s homes for birthday, anniversary, prom, and graduation celebrations. The money is not great but the joy we bring to people in their homes is remarkable.
What’s your impression of the current state of our business? Are you seeing growth, future predictions, etc…
I am hoping to see a continued uptick in business. Hopefully, our economy will be able to handle any unforeseen relapse. OOH had tremendous momentum going into the start of 2020. Let’s hope we can recapture positive growth again soon.