City officials considering selling ads on trash bins

Marketers in Minnesota claim they can turn Buffalos 160,000 trash totes and recycling bins into cash cows. Picture these receptacles decked out in weather-resistant advertising decals that would be heat-sealed to make sure they dont fall off on frigid winter mornings or steamy summer days.

The large totes could accommodate ads on three sides and the lid. There might even be a market for space inside the totes and on the bottom of the smaller recycling bins, as some advertisers strive to build brand awareness. Some trash containers located in parks and commercial districts might also be included in the advertising blitz.

Even advocates admit it’s an idea that probably would have been trashed in more prosperous times. But as Buffalo continues to face huge budget gaps in future years, officials are under the gun to find new ways to raise money.

And advertising on garbage totes could generate hundreds of thousands a year for the city, according to CarteMedia, a Minnetonka, Minn., alternative media service. Michael Paul, director of market development, met with Buffalo officials and promised to send a formal proposal by early September.

“You have a high-potential market,” said Paul. “The (advertising) exposure of 160,000 carts would be tremendous.”

North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., the lead sponsor of a push to create new revenue streams by selling ads on city property, agrees. This summer, three-sided ads started popping up on parking meters in high-traffic commercial districts, including the Elmwood strip. The Common Council approved a contract with TransAd Outdoor Media that could yield up to $108,000 for the city over three years.

Golombek said he has only received one negative call from a business owner. He conceded that some homeowners might be less than enthusiastic about having their garbage totes turned into mini-billboards.