Why do we have advertising on the back of our car?

license plate frame advertising with dealer holders showing advertising

The light bulb going on moment for creating StreamlineJK was when we were on vacation in California a few years ago.  We had driven down from Vancouver as we were staying a month in Huntington Beach. We were loading our beach stuff back in the SUV in a parking lot and someone walking by asked us where we were from. I said British Columbia and they replied “oh cool because we couldn’t tell from your license plate”. At that moment I was standing with Jorden, who was 16 at the time, and we both looked at our license plate. Instead of seeing “Beautiful British Columbia” which is the of provincial slogan on our plate, all we saw was the name, website and phone number of the car dealer we bought the SUV from.

Before I could say anything Jorden asks me “why do we have advertising on the back of our car.” I had no answer for her. Until that moment I had not even really looked at the back of our three month old SUV, however, now that I had all I could see was the car dealer advertising covering up the name of our province on our license plate. I walked around to the front and it was the same there too.

My initial reaction was anger that I let the car dealer put their advertising plate frame on my car without me knowing about it. I’m usually more aware than this. Later, when I thought back on it, we had arrived at the car dealer to pick up our new vehicle and as we were signing some papers the sales agent said “I’ll get your new plates on while you finish up here.” To them it was standard operating procedure but to me it was just plain sneaky. I never would have said “Sure go put your advertising on my vehicle.” After researching this a lot over the last year or so  I’m not alone in having this happen to me.

Advertising aside, our encounter in the parking lot with the curious stranger also made me wonder - are you supposed to be proud of where you are from? Proud enough to be angry that someone defaced your license plate with their advertising? I started informally asking around and it seemed I was on to something. The advertising certainly pissed people off but everyone I spoke with was also annoyed that their state or province name was covered. I thought for certain the people of New Hampshire, with their Live Free or Die maxim on their plates would certainly be upset with this but it turns out no matter where you are from or what your states’ slogan is, people are proud to display on their cars where they are from.  I like this. I like that we have this common bond that home is important to us.  

Furthermore, people voiced to me that when they actually looked at what was on their car they didn’t like how it looked. They thought it detracted from their cars’ appearance. So we launched a study. I’ll give you more details on this in a future post but for now, let’s get rid of the ugly dealer license plate frames that are covering up our state and province names!


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