In my travels I have noted that other countries and cultures do not have the same tendencies as Americans to advertise their opinions, affiliations and product preferences on their cars. What I didn’t realize was there are places with no car bumper stickers, no car window stickers, no car magnets and no promotional stickers at all. Zero.
I just got back from a weekend in Venice, Italy. There are absolutely no bumper stickers in this city of 63,000 people because there are no bumpers – no cars at all. There are vinyl cut graphics and lettering for boats and for shop windows but that is as far as you’re going to get with vinyl and adhesives used for promotional and marking purposes.
I loved the city of Venice! I also love bumper stickers as a low cost, high impact promotional tool. But, businesses use the tools they have at their disposal and can make the biggest impact for the best price. And for individuals wishing to share their opinions, interests, and affiliations with the world – you use the mediums available. Car bumpers are not available in Venice and that may mean more flyers and handouts, more art, more local partnerships, more sandwich boards, etc. One uses the tools at their disposal. I certainly saw a lot of graffiti in Venice.
Vermont is one of only four states in the US that doesn’t allow billboards on its roadways. At the same time there are many, many bumper stickers on cars in Vermont? I think this is a great thing – less force fed “advertising”, more individual expression and art. The idea of a well-done promotional sticker isn’t to add to advertising clutter and noise, the idea is to encourage word-of-mouth and make a small impression via average people that care. Identities, movements, campaigns, slogans, companies and ideas are built and promoted with steady and continuous impressions not from paid salespeople and billboards but from fans, friends, enthusiasts, members, etc. – people that know and appreciate you and/or your product and can offer referrals and testimonials.
In Venice, bumper stickers aren’t an option. In much of the rest of Italy and Europe I’d say bumper stickers and promotional stickers are a very underutilized marketing tool. I’ll be looking into this further in the coming weeks. I’d love any feedback people might have of other cities and towns without cars (I want to go there) and the propensity to display things on personal vehicles in other countries and cultures.
By Jeff Nicholson