Spirit Newspaper’s Vehicle Wrap

Bringing new meaning to “hybrid vehicle”

One never knows when inspiration will strike. For Paul Bennett, publisher of the Spirit newspapers in Delaware County and West/Southwest Philadelphia, it materialized on a routine drive home.

The Spirit management team was looking for solutions to a nagging issue: printing enough papers to saturate the market. While passing a local graphic design business, Bennett noticed a parked car visible from the highway, the vehicle wrapped bumper to bumper with a company logo. He had an epiphany: a company car operating in its official business capacity while “side hustling” as a mobile brand-marketing tool. In early 2023, planning started in earnest.

The graphic design company that inspired Bennett did not, itself, specialize in car wraps. The company steered him to an upstart graphic design studio in New Jersey, Mad Monkey Wrapz. Impressed with its portfolio, work ethic and customer service, Bennett hired Mad Monkey Wrapz to do the work. “As an independent publishing company ourselves, it is important for us to support other small, family-owned businesses and provide them with greater exposure,” he said.

The next step was the car selection. The first choice, a Ford Explorer pick-up, did not fit the bill. On another drive home from work, Bennett found what he was looking for: a slightly used, all-black Kia Soul. With a minimal investment and a few small repairs at the local garage, the Kia was ready for a makeover.

The car was wrapped with a star-spangled, red-white-and-blue base. Layered across the vehicle and over its side and back windows were front covers of past Spirit editions. On the front of the car was an image of the paper website, www.myspiritnews.com, printed backwards, an odd sight in passing but crystal clear to those peeking in the rearview mirror at stops signs.

In December 2023, the new company car hit the streets, running errands throughout the Spirit’s distribution area. Circulation manager and Paul’s son, Mets Bennett, is typically behind the wheel. He said reactions to the vehicle were immediate.

“Eye-popping … lots of stares … asking ‘What is that?’ and questioning if it is one of those new self-driving cars,” he said. While many were curious about the design, others in the community sought more direct interaction with the paper. “People have asked about getting news stories to The Spirit,” the younger Bennett said. “Other people have asked about advertising, as well.”

Although difficult to measure the car’s direct impact on circulation numbers, online subscriptions continue to steadily grow. Plans also abound for spring and summer. As community days, parades and festivals begin to take shape, expect to see the “Spirit-mobile” front and center at these events, a reminder to those in attendance there is a strong voice, both print and digital, speaking on their behalf.

So the next time you see that flashy Spirit-wrapped Kia Soul, give a wave and pick up a copy of the newspaper.