Ryder, hoping to rent more trucks, gives away cars


With a sluggish economy and declining freight volume weakening the demand for commercial truck services, Ryder Truck Rental has turned to a marketing tactic usually associated with consumer goods -- a sweepstakes.

As part of a promotion, Miami-based Ryder is giving away 1991 Corvette convertibles to 20 businesses -- one in each of its major markets, including Baltimore -- that rented its trucks during the summer.

The more days the businesses rented, the greater their chances of winning one of the cars. The drawing is Tuesday, but Ryder spokesman Jon Larrick said the winners will not be announced until later in the week.

Although the leasing company's parent, Ryder Systems Inc., does not disclose sales figures for individual product lines, the company said the Corvette sweepstakes and advertising campaign did increase sales in the markets where the promotion ran. Ryder is one of the largest truck-leasing and rental companies in the world.

"Overall, we had double-digit increases over the same period last year," Mr. Larrick said of Ryder's sales.

The sweepstakes illustrates how a high-impact, consumer-style promotion can generate interest in a business-to-business service such as truck rentals.

"We will be looking at more programs like this," Mr. Larrick said, adding that the company attracted several new business customers as well. "We found the business market responds a lot like the consumer market."

Now, the big question is how the winning companies will decide who gets to drive the Corvette.

Mr. Larrick said the businesses can opt for an equivalent cash prize if that decision is too difficult.

The base price for a 1991 Corvette convertible is about $40,000.

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