Are Drivers Allowed to Advertise on Their Cars? SFO Says No!

Did you know that you can get a citation at the San Francisco Airport for driving a car that has advertising on it? One of our readers and drivers reported to us that he did in fact get a citation at SFO.

In this video, we’re going to break down what happened to him and how it could impact you. Stick around, because at the end of the video I’m going to share with you what I think is really going on.

Take a look at our video about this issue, or scroll to the video transcript if you prefer to read.

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We got an an email from one of our readers and a driver, a fellow driver here in San Francisco named Greg (not his real name) and he reported that he got a citation for driving a car at the airport that had advertising on it. So, we’re going to break that down, and we’re going to start off by looking at the background of advertising on your car.

What are the different ways to advertise on your car?

Before we get into the actual citation, let’s take a look at some of the different ways that you can advertise on your car. Now, this is an example of what’s called a wrap. This is a company called Carvertise. Our driver, Greg, is a Carvertise customer.

Another way you can do it is with a company called Firefly. This is where you’ve got the advertisement on top of your car, and it’s digital. You’ll see things like DoorDash, for example. I see that advertised a lot up here on top of someone’s car. That’s called a fin.

Another form of advertising we see a lot is the taxi cab. The taxi cab have these little sandwich boards on top of their car. Then Greg’s car here you see a has Cover, which is a service that makes it easier to get insurance.

How our reader got a citation for advertisements on his vehicle

There’s all of these different ways of advertising. If you drive a lot at the airport, you’ll see all these different forms of advertising driving around. So, why did Greg get a citation?

We’ll look at the citation and see if that gives us any clues. This is how it went down for Greg. On February 24th, he received this email from Lyft. It says, “We have been notified that SFO issued a citation, because you engaged in prohibited activity on airport property,” and then, “As a one-time exceptional, Lyft will pay this particular citation on your behalf and will not require you to pay the cost of the citation.” Good on you, Lyft. Then down here it says, “The most common reasons are circling the terminal roadways, staging in the airport terminal, blocking crosswalks, et cetera,” nothing having to do with advertising.

Then attached to this email was this, which is the actual citation. Somebody in the yellow vest wrote this out by hand and submitted it. It’s kind of interesting. These are all the different things that they would normally give somebody a citation for, leaving a vehicle unattended, soliciting passengers, staging, unsafe driving, but none of that applies.

As we go down here, here’s where it gets interesting. It says, “Number 3.5.” That’s not even listed here. It just says, “Advertising and promotion prohibited,” and under comments, “Ping time: 1026,” I don’t know what that means, “Vehicle observed operating with advertisements wrap.” That’s it. That’s it. It’s pretty interesting that it’s not even listed. This is like a new kind of a violation, which leads me to think we’re onto something here.

Searching through SFO regulations for answers

Let’s go now and see what we can find in the San Francisco Airport, the SFL, rules and regulations. I went online, and I found a PDF, which was called City And County Of San Francisco Airport Commission Rules And Regulations, from March 15, 2016.

I found these two sections prohibiting promoting advertising or soliciting sales or business for any commercial enterprise, including but not limited to distributing free product samples or other promotional materials. If you just generally, vaguely, broadly speaking, say advertising, that’s what these cars and taxis are doing.

Then it says, “Placing signs, notices, posters, again, advertisements, or other writing in or around your airport property, including but not limited to the interior.”

Basically, they’re saying anywhere in the airport you’re not supposed to place signs, notices, posters, or advertisements. It doesn’t say you can’t put them on a car, but it doesn’t say you can. So, it’s very broad and very open to interpretation. But apparently this guy or woman in the yellow vest on this particular day decided that this was in fact a violation.

What is the car advertising company’s response?

What is Lyft and what is Carvertise saying to our reader and driver, Greg? They say, “We are looking into it.” That’s not giving us much information. This seems to be an unchartered territory, which we’re getting into here, and that’s all the information that we have. In the next section of this video, we’re going to hypothesize what we think is going on.

In summary, let me tell you what I think is really going on. What I think is really going on here is a cash grab by the San Francisco Airport. I think they kind of found this loophole, and they want to cash in and get a little piece of the rideshare industry. All these hundreds and thousands of cars a day coming through, many of them with advertising, and they could just write a citation.

We don’t know what the citation amount is, $150, $200. Think about how much money you could make over and over each day by writing these citations. Think about the disruption it would be for the advertisers. But I think that’s what’s going on. I think it’s the old profit motive. Greed is good. Capitalism, alive and well. That’s what I think is going on.

The other theory is that this yellow vest was just having a lousy day, and he just wanted to lash out, and he thought, “Huh. I’m gonna going to get this guy and write him a citation for advertising,” which, as far as we know, hasn’t happened yet. If this has happened to you, let us know.

Has this happened to you?

We would very be interested to find out if anyone else out there has gotten a citation for advertising at the airport. This is Jay Cradeur with The Rideshare Guy. Thanks for watching. You all go out and have a great day.


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