Sheldon Williams, Gleaner Writer
The use of automobiles to advertise businesses is nothing new, as many business owners capitalise on the inherent mobility to attract customers. Common choices are public passenger vehicles and motor cars in working condition.
However, for the owners of Jakes in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, the vehicle of choice is a 1941 Ford Prefect. Despite - or perhaps because of - its antiquity, the car continues to attract the curious to the property.
Jakes' managing director, Jason Henzell, explained he had other intentions when he purchased the vehicle but his mother, Sally Rose Henzell, had ideas of her own that resulted in the vehicle becoming a signature for the hotel.
"That car is worth millions due to the international goodwill. She was built in the UK. We bought her from John Deer, an antique dealer in
Billy's Bay, Treasure Beach, for US$100. I bought it with the idea of fixing it up, went away for the weekend and my mother had written Jakes on the side. It quickly became our iconic sign that has been featured in newspapers and travel magazines all over the world," Henzell said.
Sally Rose has since added permanent passengers to the vehicle, two mannequins called Jane and Elisa who have increased the attraction and fortified the advertising effect. Sally Rose has also come up with an amusing storyline to keep customers interested. "I always tell guests that those two ladies have been waiting a long time to get a room at Jakes and they are still prepared to wait," she said.
"I had the idea of putting the two ladies dressed up smartly in the back of the car sometime before I actually did it. It took me long enough to find the mannequins and then I had to saw off their legs and lay them flat. Finding the clothes and wigs was easy,".
Henzell was motivated to use the car as a prop after seeing a similarly displayed vehicle in New York some years ago. "Long ago I saw a London taxi at the Museum of Modern Art in NY In it were two ladies and it was permanently raining inside the car and the car had vines growing inside. I never forgot it; it was quite enchanting," she said.
The Prefect has been in place long enough for the link between car and property to be forged. "It has been out in front of Jakes for I would like to think about 10 years. At first it just had our telephone number, 965-3000, written as the licence plate," Sally said.
"Everybody who comes to Jakes thinks it is very amusing and up till today I saw guests leaving taking pictures of it. At night it is lit up inside."
WHITEBONES' WATER TRUCK
Managing director of Whitebones Seafood Restaurant, Richard Elliot, has tapped into cost-effective advertising through a water truck that he owns and which supplies water to the restaurant. Whitebones opened its doors on Mannings Hills Road, St Andrew, seven years ago but the ad on the truck was created a year later.
Elliot explained that "things tend to go out of people's minds, but when they see the ads it refreshes their minds". He said since he did the ad, Whitebones' customers have increased but he was unable to provide statistics at the time of the interview.
Elliott said acquiring the water truck was a precautionary measure against periodic drought and unexpected dry spells. "We will have a water problem starting soon and I used to buy two loads of water everyday. Two trips at $8,000 a trip, so I thought it would be easier to buy myself a truck," Elliot explained with a chuckle.
Elliot also said Whitebones has the use of a fire truck that is exclusively owned by the company and hinted that it serves as something else which separates them from the competition.