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New taxi advertising venture rolls into town

After signing contracts with three Lower Mainland cab companies, Adcabs Media puts its first ads on the road
Adcabs Media president Jalil Asaria and CEO Dave Haboosheh with their first ad-emblazoned cab

In a nod to Big Apple-style marketing, taxi advertising pulled into town this month as Vancouver startup Adcabs Media launched its first wave of ad-emblazoned cabs in the Lower Mainland.

The company’s first 16 ad-wrapped taxis are now on the road in Surrey and North Vancouver, where Adcabs has contracts with Guilford Cab 1993 Ltd. and Sunshine Cabs Ltd., respectively.

Dave Haboosheh, 27, is the company’s founder and CEO. The licensed realtor said he got the idea of taxi advertising when he was looking for innovative ways to promote Coldwell Banker City Centre, the real estate firm he was working for.

Haboosheh floated the idea with high school classmate and long-time friend Jalil Asaria – now Adcabs’ president.

“[Asaria’s] response was: there must be a reason someone’s not already doing this,” Haboosheh said.

But after contacting the City of Vancouver to investigate, the pair discovered there were no laws against wrapping cabs in ads. They also learned of a few previously unsuccessful attempts to launch the business in Vancouver: a taxi hubcap approach that fell below people’s sightlines and full-car wraps that obscured cab company information.

Haboosheh added that the city felt that New York-style advertising – with triangular ads on cab roofs – would obscure a taxi’s indicator light.

Steering clear of those approaches, the pair opted for a wrap technology that affixes an ad to taxis’ rear passenger doors and allows them to keep the cab company’s branding prominent on the two front doors.

“There’s nobody in Canada that’s doing this,” Asaria said.

He added that there’s some New York-style cab-top advertising in Toronto, but pointed out that the approach isn’t popular with cabbies because ads get nailed to cab roofs, causing rust and damage.

Haboosheh said Adcabs is also affixing a QR code to cab doors and inside windows. He said the two-dimensional bar codes, which can be scanned with smartphones, allow advertisers to direct potential customers to a website, social media network, promotional coupons or other interactive features they’ve set up.

With the advertising approach worked out, Haboosheh and Asaria have been negotiating contracts with cab companies in the Lower Mainland and Edmonton. Adcabs’ business model centres around advertising revenue, which is shared with cab company partners.

Besides Guilford and Sunshine Cabs, the pair say they’ve signed contracts with North Shore Taxi and Edmonton’s Co-op Taxi. They also expect to add Vancouver Taxi Ltd. to their client list soon.

Bankruptcy trustee firm Sands & Associates is one of the first companies to sign on to advertise with Adcabs. The company has thus far booked a dozen cabs with Adcabs’ Surrey fleet.

“It was kind of a perfect dovetail with our new marketing direction,” said Blair Mantin, the company’s vice-president. “We’re trying to be the most innovative trustee firm in Canada.”

The company has negotiated a deal to be the exclusive bankruptcy firm advertising with Adcabs in Surrey.

Mantin said as bankruptcy firms move away from Yellow Pages advertising to new platforms, the company sees taxi advertising as a way to set itself apart.

“None of our competitors are there so we can break out a little bit.” •