Vehicle advertising is admittedly not a huge revenue stream for the transit agency: Muni expects to earn about $4 million a year over five years from ads on its vehicles, only 20 percent of which can be covered in the “wraps,” according to the terms of its ad contract. But even wrapping a fifth of Muni’s fleet in corporate pitches is bad, and part of the “creeping and creepy commercialization” engulfing our city, according to Supervisor Eric Mar, who proposed the ban.
This might seem like a tough sell or perhaps even a mean trick to play on Muni during its fiscal crisis. But consider: Ads on Muni bus shelters and kiosks are already limited by law (but not on Fast Passes). Plus, the wraps are considered health hazards as well as gauche and offensive to the eyes: they can cause “claustrophobia or even nausea,” if they block a passenger’s view of the road, Mar said, and therefore it is they who must go.
The nix on wraps would complement a prior cap on outdoor street advertising and limit Muni’s potential for increased advertising to solutions inside or on the vehicles in a way that wouldn’t obstruct windows (or merely look uglyass, one presumes).
Muni has 184 vehicles eligible for wrapping (1/5 of the agency’s 920 buses and light rail vehicles). How many currently are wrapped and how much money the agency gleans from the wraps is unclear; a Muni spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. A 10-year old Chronicle article said that the first wrap ads — for Pepsi Clear, remember that? We don’t — generated as much as $20,000 per vehicle, 65 percent of which went to Muni. More recent figures were not available.
Titan Outdoor has handled the bus ads since July 2009, taking over for CBS Outdoor, who had run the Muni ad program beginning in 1985. CBS Outdoor still handles ads on kiosks and bus shelters.
Muni chief Nat Ford will try to change Mar’s mind, according to The Examiner: wrap ads will be “tasteful” and “won’t compromise security,” he said.