Starting tomorrow September 1st, residents of Toronto just may have the best car rental deal going - for $1/day, a Canadian fleet advertising company creatively called CityFlitz will rent you one of their brightly decorated Mini or Smart cars to use as you please. There is only one small catch to this amazing deal: 1. The renter must drive at least 30km (*a little less than 19 miles) within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) each day he or she rents.
Oh, and of course by "brightly decorated," I mean "plastered with brand logos."
Wrapping your company's logo and name in loud colors, CityFlitz provides its clients with its own brand of mobile advertising that stands out without being obnoxious in size or requiring a truck driving license to operate. If you don't have the time or the resources to drive it yourself and do not want to pay whatever extra cost is implied by having CityFlitz staff drive, CityFlitz will rent your branded advertising fleet cars to the public! The best part? The public pays CityFlitz a whole $1/day. Everybody wins!
But some commentators seem doubtful that the idea will actually catch on with the public. The Economist (London) argues that business travellers might actually be "underwhelmed" by the $1/day price, that locals might prefer public city transit, and that tourists might find trouble driving a whole 30km or would otherwise feel outed as an out-of-towner. I think all of these arguments seem plausible at first glance, but once you start to think about it there isn't much weight to any of them. It's true that business travellers probably wouldn't take a CityFlitz Yahoo! Canada car to meet with a client, but I don't think they would object to a cheap rental for day-to-day travelling on the basis of its being "too cheap." The cars are brand new cars; it isn't as though they look "cheap." Even fairly well-off individuals can appreciate a great deal that doesn't put a dent in their fortune - especially if it's in support of a unique new business model like CityFlitz. Locals would actually spend much more than $1/day using public transportation and as blog comments point out, the bus and train aren't as convenient for bigger errands like grocery shopping. Lastly, I do agree that tourists wouldn't be as keen to use it... but not for the reasons referenced. In my own experiences as a tourist, I have been more than willing to travel a bit more to see the attractions or eat at a really great restaurant on the other side of town. And the car certainly doesn't scream "out-of-towner" - if anything, it screams, "I work for Yahoo!" or "I work for CityFlitz!" Tourists just want the tourist experience is all, and taking the public transportation within the GTA is closer to that than renting a CityFlitz car.
Personally I think that these little cars are a great marketing tool. They're certainly attention grabbing but at the same time aren't bothersome to other drivers on the road as the giant mobile billboards are. At the very least, the cars promote greater brand recognition throughout the GTA. I also think that if I were driving a branded car regularly, I'd eventually develop a greater connection with that particular brand over time whether I realized it or not, simply because it's indirectly helping me accomplish my daily tasks at an incredibly low price. With gas included and prices at the pump being so intimidating, you really can't argue $1/day. I for one am really interested to see how this business progresses over the next year.