Is Wrappr the future of outdoor advertising?

April 30, 2019

Wrappr is an Australian startup that brings the sharing economy to advertising by pairing brands with their brand advocates. 

I recently spoke with Wrappr cofounder Liam Shaw about brand advocacy and the future of advertising as I’m always curious about what’s new, what works and why it works in the world of branding.

I learnt a lot from our chat and hope you do too.

DT: What is Wrappr?

LS: Wrappr wraps private cars driven by a brand’s advocates to promote a brand in strategic locations, whether that be in target cities, suburbs, or outside the front of a big event or a competitor’s store.

These wraps are a removable vinyl material with beautiful branded designs covering the entire car. The wraps usually promote the brand in the voice of the advocate. For example ‘This car listens to Kyle and Jackie O’ or more simply ‘I love Youfoodz’. 

This is the first time ever brands have the opportunity to leverage and amplify the voice of their brand advocates in outdoor.

Wrappr for brands

Advocates are vehicle owners who complete a comprehensive survey on the Wrappr platform, and who are over a 98% ‘brand match’ for the brand who is running the campaign based on a number of qualifying criteria. Advocates agree to have their car wrapped in exchange for a monthly payment, which requires them to meet agreed parameters, such as kilometres driven and hours parked in target locations.

Wrappr for advocates

DT: What problem is Wrappr solving?

LS: We are solving two problems:

First, we are allowing brands to amplify the voice of their brand advocates, who currently have no scalable way of sharing their love for the brand. If you think about the brands that you like in your own life, the ones that you really support and want to succeed, how many people have you told about them in the past month? One, five, ten people? Our brand advocates get around 15,000 impressions per day.

Second, we give brands access to key advertising locations that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to at all, or with their budget. For example, many brands like to sponsor events, which will cost anywhere from $5K to $50K per event. But with a $5K per month investment with Wrappr, a brand can get access to up to 72 events, with three advocates at each event! It’s a huge difference.

The same principle applies to advertising locations that would otherwise be extremely expensive, such as high foot traffic areas, or areas that are hard to reach with existing out of home options.

DT: Where is your sweet spot?

LS: Companies looking to invest in their brand, and who want to cut through with innovative new marketing, will get the most out of Wrappr.

DT: Will this disrupt the way outdoor advertising is done in Australia?

LS: We believe so. If some of the $927 million invested in outdoor last year in Australia was shared with everyday Australians, we’d be thrilled.

From a trends and forecasting perspective, there are a few things happening which make us believe now is the time for Wrappr. The rise of influencer marketing, growing distrust of big tech ad companies, and the stability of trust in other human beings as shown by numerous studies makes us believe that we’re onto something.

There is nothing inherently wrong with outdoor, but we believe that people will always trust another person over a billboard.

Overseas, we’ve seen other companies doing car wrapping, growing in popularity with big brands such as Lyft, Salesforce, Zendesk, Google and eBay all utilising the medium. The other companies are approaching things differently to us, and are essentially selling ad space on private cars, but nonetheless are getting lots of attention. We are taking things to the next level though by bringing the human element into it with brand advocates.

DT: How do you define ‘brand advocate’?

LS: A brand advocate is someone who likes and supports a brand, and who fits their target market.

DT: How do you find brand advocates?

LS: We’re looking for people who are raving fans of brands. When an advocate registers with Wrappr they complete a comprehensive survey including the brands they use across a wide range of categories. For the brands they do use, we ask them to give a Net Promoter Score.

We connect brands with advocates who are their natural promoters, so anyone who gives a brand a score less than 8 out of 10 is not suitable to promote that brand.

We use a variety of marketing to attract new advocates to our platform, and so far acquisition and segmentation of these advocates has not been a problem at all.

DT: Can you give us a specific example?

LS: If you take a brand like Bunnings, one of their target markets may be 25-40 year old tradespeople living in the inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.

We would connect Bunnings with tradespeople who not only match their target market criteria, but who already use and love them.

Or, take a brand like Optus. Optus has got an incredibly strong following, and have one of the highest NPS scores on Wrappr. With Wrappr, Optus can allow their biggest fans to promote to the world all the reasons why they love them, driving awareness and FOMO among non-customers.

DT: Are there any other companies doing this? If so, what is your point of differentiation?

LS: There is nobody else doing this like we are, but that may not last for too much longer. There are other companies who focus on car wrapping, but none that elevate the brand through the voice of the driver.

We have first-mover advantage, which is great! We’re happy to prove the model for everyone else to jump in and join the party. More competition means more value for advocates and brands.

DT: You’re a fan of the sharing economy. Tell us more about that.

LS: There’s half a trillion dollars spent every year on advertising worldwide and that money goes to just a few companies. With the sharing economy a large chunk of that money gets filtered into the pockets of everyday people, which we believe is a much better model economically and commercially. From a brand’s perspective, they are able to spend their ad dollars on people who are genuinely interested in their brand and want to share that brand with other people, rather than just filling the pockets of a few behemoths.

DT: How will your model change with the introduction of autonomous cars?

LS: We can easily see the value which we’re able to provide brands doubling or tripling when autonomous cars arrive, simply due to the massive increase in strategic targeting capabilities, creativity and control over driving patterns, and data awareness about where advertising hotspots are.

DT: How will the increasing traffic congestion in Australian urban centres affect the value of your offering?

LS: Well, considering that traffic congestion is due to population growth, and more people means more impressions, we’re not too worried.

The scenario that you’re imagining, where an advocate is stuck in a traffic jam sandwiched between cars on either side, is not likely to ever happen in a high foot traffic area as streets generally have two lanes. The only place where this may occur on occasion would be on a multilane highway or major road, which is not where the majority of impressions are delivered.

DT: You’re a big believer in the power of Category. Why?

LS: In many cases competition gave startups market legitimacy, and this legitimacy was what caused their growth, rather than their brand itself. In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing they talk about the Law of Category, and how it’s often the category that is the most interesting thing for the market, not the business.

Take the sharing economy for example. Ten years ago it was this crazy new concept. There was so much media about it and Uber and Airbnb were mentioned in every single article. And that was because they were the two players in this new category. Off the back of this, they’ve since become household names and have mindshare whenever anybody mentions something to do with the sharing economy.

If you take Uber and Lyft, their fighting against each other actually gives credibility to the category. So people get interested in the category, then flock to the market leader because that is the most legitimate option.

DT: What do you think of people who put Wrappr in the category of Billboards?

LS: That’s great because we have a very obvious differentiating factor to billboards. Our category is Brand Advocate Advertising. And we have created that in Australia.

DT: What do you think about the future of billboards?

LS: Oh they’re going to be around. Digital billboards are effective in their own way. And just by having your brand on a big billboard gives it a lot of credibility.

In Australia 52% of Australia’s out of home revenue comes from digital screens, and that’s growing every year. The media companies are able to put ten companies on one billboard instead of one, which means a lot more revenue for them, which means they can further invest in promoting their category.

But despite these positives there is the big problem that it’s an old industry, and the market is looking for new, cost effective and authentic ways to connect with customers, Wrappr is all these.

DT: What else can you say about your differentiation in comparison with traditional outdoor?

LS: If people want to compare us with other outdoor options that’s great because we have so many clear advantages over those other options. You can put a car wherever you want. You can congregate all of our cars together and drive them in a fleet in an area and have a really big impact. You can park them in front of big events.

Further, because of our advocacy focus, we don’t really see a point in constantly comparing ourselves with out of home, because we’re so different.

Ask yourself if you saw a local person drive past you promoting Anytime Fitness, and that person was themselves quite fit, would that impact your brand perception of Anytime Fitness more or less than a billboard?

Obviously it’s more, and it’s not only more, it’s on a whole new level because people bring social influences that leave prospects with the type of impression that billboards simply can’t.

DT: What can you tell advertisers themselves about branding that most don’t get?

LS: I think marketers shouldn’t get sucked into the allure of digital marketing too much, as it’s aligned to delivering short term sales over long term mindshare. Digital marketing is great, and it’s very targeted and cost-effective, but it’s not branding.

A lot of small businesses use digital marketing, but it has questionable branding value. And especially with people’s growing distrust of digital platforms it may not be the best channel for businesses to invest in from a branding perspective.

Nielsen has conduct a number of studies on the trustworthiness of advertising channels. Paid social and paid search are both below 50% in terms of whether people trust what they see. On the flip side, 83% trust what their friends say. It’s almost twice as impactful.

Nielsen trust ratings

So why not leverage that, whether it be through Wrappr, or authentic online reviews, or authentic influencer marketing, or simply giving your brand advocates free merchandise?


So think about your own organisation and brand. What is your strategy for attracting and keeping brand advocates? We at T&G would love to hear your own experiences with outdoor advertising, an area we are investing more of our research into recently.

If Wrappr a solution that could work for you, you can get in touch with Liam here.


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Darren Taylor

MD & Head of Strategy and Research

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