Why I am irrationally excited about a U-Haul truck

I was having coffee with a friend in Portland, Maine, when I suddenly jumped out of my seat. “Wait a minute!” I said. “I have to go see this U-Haul truck!”

I ran out the door, skipped across the boulevard, and stood in front of a U-Haul truck parked on the street. It looked like this:

u-haul truck

So why did I abandon a perfectly nice coffee shop and an above-average friend for a U-Haul truck? It just shouted “Marketing Rebellion!”

Four main principles from my Marketing Rebellion book:

  1. The customer is the marketer.
  2. Marketing is about their story, not your story.
  3. Make the customer the hero.
  4. User-generated content is among the most valuable marketing assets.
  5. Help customers belong.

I love this truck because it hits on all cylinders and, with apologies to U-Haul, it’s honoring customers through a pretty boring product, too.

How this U-Haul program works

In 2018, U-Haul created a program called U-Haul Famous. It allows any customer to upload a photo to their site for consideration on a truck. Within 6-8 weeks, a customer photo appears on a U-Haul truck decal.

If your photo is used on a truck, you can then track your photo by seeing where “your” truck is anywhere, at any time, in the U.S. and Canada.

I called U-Haul’s marketing department (four different people) and tried to get a quote about the program. I am particularly interested in success stories and what percentage of the photos they actually use.

Nobody returned my call. So … that kind of sucks U-Haul. But hey, I like your marketing program.

I want to be on one of your trucks!

The customer is the marketer. How do we help them do the job?

Update: A week later, nobody from U-Haul has returned my call, even after outreach on social media. Their social media agency, however, is having a field day taking advantage of the blog post for positive publicity. This is just wrong on so many levels:


u-haul sucks

In this example, U-Haul has turned a positive case study into a negative one. I was an advocate for their marketing and now I have a negative attitude about the company because they ignored me and then took advantage of me. It makes me wonder … if they won’t return my call when I say something good about them, would they return my call if I had trouble with one of their trucks?

Keynote speaker Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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