View Full Version : Chesapeake trucking firm sports Marine Corps ads

10-04-02, 11:03 AM
CHESAPEAKE -- When the Marine Corps went looking for recruits for its latest marketing offensive, a Chesapeake-based company was the first to answer the call to duty.

Givens Trucking Co. Inc. is decorating 25 of its 200 trailers with the Marine logo and other images, as part of a new, national effort to raise awareness of -- and enlistment in -- the Corps.

"Instead of waiting for somebody to drive by a billboard, we take it to them,'' said Maj. Andrew Fortunato of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, who is in charge of the program.

Big-rig operators around the country are donating space on 1,000 trailers to the campaign, which will run for at least two years.

The Corps is an obvious cause for Givens, according to managers. Executive vice-president Keith Helton is a former Marine officer, and the company's 200 employees include other veterans, as well.

"It fell right in with our idea of supporting the military,'' said Larry Maida, Givens' safety director.

One side of the trailers is emblazoned with a giant nylon sign showing the Corps' ceremonial saber, and the words, ``Earned. Never given.''

The sign on the opposite side features a photo of Marines at attention in their dress blues. The rear doors of the rigs bear the Corps' distinctive globe-and-eagle insignia.

The idea for the campaign arose last spring.

Mike Russell of the American Trucking Associations in Alexandria met Maj. Rob Winchester of the recruiting command by chance at a Richmond NASCAR race.

Russell, an ex-Marine truck driver, and Winchester began talking, and hit on the idea of asking ATA's nearly-3,000 motor carrier members to donate their trailers in the effort. Most volunteered, giving the Marines a wide selection from which to choose.

``We can do something to help the Corps and the national defense'' while providing the Marines with an attractive use of their ad dollars, Russell said.

The program works for both parties, organizers said.

The Marines' marketing budget, about $47.5 million last fiscal year, isn't growing as fast as the cost of advertising, Fortunato said, so the brass has been forced to stretch promotional dollars.

The truck program gives the Corps high-profile, oversized exposure to millions of motorists.

Givens' trucks, for instance, travel a total of about 9 million miles annually. That should mean well over a million miles for the company's fleet of Marine trailers.

Trucking operators, meanwhile, can help the Corps and project a patriotic image for themselves and their employees.

They may even lure some Marines who are ending their service into the trucking business -- a strong appeal in an industry that is scrambling for competent, reliable workers.

The Corps is picking up the cost of manufacturing the advertising materials and affixing them to the trailers -- about $1,200 apiece, or roughly the same as an average stationary billboard.

"We look to get the best bang for the buck and the most cost efficiency,'' Fortunato said.