How do you move a lot of excess inventory and save thousands of dollars in advertising at the same time? Forrest Homes in Atlanta did it with bugs—big red ones on wheels.

Beth Marconi-Law, vice president of sales and marketing, was looking for something other than a straight cash incentive to get the public's attention. What if the company gave away cars? That certainly would be different. Marconi-Law did some research and liked what she saw, but she needed to get more from the deal than just sales. She knew that every car could serve as a rolling billboard criss-crossing the market for months to come.

She went with Volkswagen Beetles because they were popular, affordable—the home buyers get a free two-year lease, after which they can buy the car or turn it in—and fuel-efficient, which played well with Atlanta's commuters. Plus, no one could miss the bright red Beetles wrapped in a graphic of giant flowers and “www.ForrestHomes.com.”

Confidentiality agreements prevent Marconi-Law from sharing actual numbers on the promotion, but the excess inventory was sold, an additional 540 units of qualified traffic was driven to their communities, and Forrest Homes gained an extremely valuable marketing tool.

CUSTOM CAR: Forrest Homes moved inventory homes and gained a mobile ad force with a unique promotion (far right) that gave buyers use of an ad-wrapped VW Beetle for two years.BUG BUTTON: Sales agents wore buttons (right) to encourage prospective buyers to ask about the promotion.
CUSTOM CAR: Forrest Homes moved inventory homes and gained a mobile ad force with a unique promotion (far right) that gave buyers use of an ad-wrapped VW Beetle for two years.BUG BUTTON: Sales agents wore buttons (right) to encourage prospective buyers to ask about the promotion.

“In Atlanta, one billboard on I-20 or 285 costs $4,000 to $5,000 a month,” she says. “I have all these rolling billboards driving up and down them every day for the next two years.”

Category: Best special promotion; Project: “Our Homes Come With Bugs” promotion; Builder: Forrest Homes, Atlanta; Ad agency: Mop Dog Advertising and Design, Acworth, Ga.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.