ATLANTA — Todd Isaacs has sold advertising for TV and radio, but now he works with a medium that he said he finds more rewarding: yellow school buses.
"There aren't many mediums where you can say the majority of the revenue is going toward school districts, which need it," Isaacs, owner and founder of Atlanta-based District Solutions, told SBF. "From an advertising perspective, that makes you feel good."
District Solutions offers "full-service" school bus advertising, selling the content, installing the signs and managing all aspects of the program. In most cases, the school district gets 55% of the revenue, while District Solutions gets the other 45%.
The company is now working with three school districts in Tennessee: Blount, Cumberland and Putnam counties, with ads on a total of more than 150 buses.
Cumberland County Schools has more than 40 buses in the advertising program, with two ads on each bus. The approximately $15,000 that the district has raised so far is being put toward transportation for homeless students to after-school programs.
Tennessee law prohibits certain types of ads on school buses, such as those promoting alcohol or tobacco. Also, the ads must be placed on the rear quarter panels of the bus and cannot exceed 16 inches in height and 60 inches in length.
In addition to meeting the state regulations, Isaacs said that his company clears potential advertisers with the school district.
Isaacs said that he is aware of concerns in the pupil transportation community about school bus ads — namely, that the ads could distract motorists around the bus, thereby putting students at risk. In response, Isaacs points to the ads' record on the road.
"In the 20 years since [some districts] started school bus advertising in Colorado, from all of my research and everything I've heard and read, there has never been a single accident attributed to motorists being distracted by a school bus ad," he said. "That's pretty much the strongest case that I can make. ... It's reinforcement that this is safe."
Colorado began allowing advertisements on school buses in 1993. State pupil transportation director Greta Bleau told SBF that, to date, the Colorado Department of Education has not received any information indicating that an advertisement was the cause of or had any effect in an accident.
While District Solutions' business is currently just in Tennessee, Isaacs said that he is working with Georgia legislators on a bill that would allow school bus advertising in the state. He said that the bill is expected to be introduced in the Georgia State Senate in January.
"Georgia is certainly one of our goals — we definitely want to work here in our own state," Isaacs said. "Where we grow from there, time will tell."