Captive audience

Bruce Petersen freely admits it: He stole the idea to place ads on the backs of buses urging people to donate their cars to charity

As art director of KnollGroup in Portland, Ore., Petersen was working on a pro-bono campaign for Habitat for Humanity when he recalled inching along in his pickup truck, stuck behind a bus.

“When I was sitting in that traffic jam,” Petersen said, “I saw an ad on the back of a bus telling people they could donate their cars to [another] charity. I thought, ‘I’d love to get rid of this thing.’ I named that truck Valdez because it leaked so much oil—and I donated Valdez to charity.”

Petersen believes the tail end of a bus is the perfect place for such an ad: Drivers snarled in traffic just sit there staring into oblivion, with nothing but time to kill.

To ensure the Habitat ads will be noticed, he used a simple black-and-white design on a bright-yellow background. The text reads, “The vehicle you donate can help us build a family’s home.”

With the help of local media agency Obie Media, the ads created by KnollGroup will appear on Portland buses through the holiday season.