I was stuck in traffic last year thinking about some marketing postcards we were developing," recalls Sylvain Côté, "when I thought: Why not print a postcard on a van?"

Why not? Côté--who is president of Absolute Remodeling, a Yorktown Heights, NY., design/build firm--appropriated the slogan, "Lie, Cheat & Steal" from REMODELING and posted it on his van because it was sure to turn some heads. (The phrase was coined by architect Mark McInturff to describe open space designs. See REMODELING, January 1994.)

Isn't Côté worried about folks neglecting to read the small print and driving away with the wrong impression? "No," he says, emphatically. "Those are the people to keep away from. Smart people get the picture right away."

The van has, indeed, captured a lot of attention. "Since the first day we headed out in it we've gotten calls from people who saw us and want to know more about us." Côté's most recent brainstorm makes those phone calls even easier. Before each trip, the driver attaches a handful of magnetic business cards to the van's fender, beneath a sign that says, "Go ahead, grab one." Callers receive a glossy press kit.

The van hasn't been on the road long enough to measure its success in netted jobs, but the response rate has been so encouraging Côté has decided to transform two more vans into moving billboards. He's already got one of the  messages planned: "One of your neighbors is having a facelift." But even Côté admits there are limits to provocative advertising. "I was considering a headline that said, 'One of your neighbors is being ripped off,'" says Côté. "Then I decided that was just going too far."


"We Love To Lie, Cheat & Steal" Van



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