Government is undergoing a huge transformation. Government entities such as school districts and local governments are forced to be innovative in finding solutions to budget shortfalls and growing demands on their limited revenues.
One solution many of these government subdivisions are turning to is seeking private and corporate sponsors for advertising – on everything from school buses to naming rights on roads and bridges. This simple solution that can mean millions of dollars is becoming more and more popular and is a topic of conversation for many state legislatures.
California currently allows advertising on the inside of school buses, but a bill was introduced that encouraged lawmakers to allow ads on the outside of buses. The state already allows sponsorships and advertising to be purchased and placed in lunchrooms, hallways, school publications and even test-taking materials.
Texas school districts are also willing to allow advertising as a way to increase funds. School districts that are involved with advertising include Dallas, Irving and Carrolton. Allen ISD is promoting a $35,000 stadium advertising package to potential private sponsors.
Other states with legislation that allows school bus advertising include New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. While ad size and location regulations differ by state, each enforces strict guidelines about content and images.
Two bills brought on debate in the Florida legislature that would overturn school bus advertising restrictions. If all 67 school districts in the state sold ads on their buses, it is projected that ad revenues could exceed $37 million the first year. Other states are also considering legislation that would address school bus advertising.
Municipal advertising opportunities are being identified as ways to create income for cities and counties as well. For instance:
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) planned to seek bids from private firms for naming rights on a number of seasonal transit assets. Upon successful execution of this initial phase, the CTA will determine the feasibility of making additional rail, bus and concession assets available for corporate sponsorship.
In March, the state of Virginia approved legislation that allows for naming rights on roads and bridges. These sales are expected to generate $27.3 million within five years and $273 million in 20 years. The money collected would then be allocated for transportation and road improvement projects.
In Long Beach, California, a partnership policy was passed that allows for private firms to propose advertising during public events, in parks and on marine properties. Public departments are encouraged to seek these partnerships.
The city of Los Angeles is working to amend its sign ordinance. The plan is to allow for the sale of ads in the LA Zoo and county parks.
North Andover, Massachusetts, may sell ads and place coupons on water bills to offset the cost of postage.
Many more changes on how governments raise funding to bridge budget gaps are likely in the works.