Not long ago, Ed Benckert was driving his car and minding his own business when he saw those dreaded flashing lights in his rearview mirror. “What did I do?” he asked the cop who pulled him over. “Oh, nothing,” the cop replied. “I just want to take a picture of your car. My daughter loves zombies.”
You see, Benckert’s car is not like other cars; it features fake gore and a life-size, realistic looking zombie on the roof. It’s a tribute to the current zombie craze, but it’s also smart advertising — Benckert runs Laser Shark Design, a company that provides custom vehicle wraps, among other innovative marketing products. And the zombie car is a perfect example of how a car wrap can get you noticed: “I can’t leave the parking lot at Wegman’s without someone stopping me and wanting to take a picture,” Benckert says.
Benckert had the car wrapped before Halloween last year; the zombie’s look was helped by the fact that he’s also an amateur Halloween prop maker. The car is his daily commute vehicle, so the zombie accompanies him everywhere — to the coffee shop, to drop his kid off at school, to go get groceries. That’s exactly the point of a vehicle wrap, he says: “It’s fantastic advertising — it’s more cost effective than almost any other kind you can think of. The average car wrap costs about $3-4,000, and you have thousands of people seeing your car every day for years.”
On the Laser Shark website, Benckert sells zombie stick figure family decals, the gore fan’s response to those ubiquitous smiling family stickers everyone has on the back of their SUV these days. He also sells blood smear decals that can make your car look as though it has bloody handprints all over it. Use caution with those: Benckert has heard of customers getting pulled over by the cops for all the suspicious “blood” on their cars. (He also does perfectly normal advertising, too — everything from t-shirts to wall decals to more creative projects, too.)
So when you’re driving around town, keep an eye out for Benckert and his zombie car. And if you happen to spot it this month, you’re in for a treat — Benckert is planning to buy his zombie a Santa suit to make the car a little bit more festive.