MTA 2019 - 0038

Marco Laraia, marketing manager for Europe at sponsor Prometeon Pirelli Truck (second right), presented the Livery of the Year award to Karl Wilshaw, head of fleet (holding trophy) and the team at Travis Perkins, accompanied by comedian Omid Djalili (squatting) and MT editor Steve Hobson (far right)

Travis Perkins’ charity-supporting ‘living livery’ initiative has redefined the purpose of truck liveries, encouraging important conversations that might otherwise not have taken place and making it an obvious choice for the Livery of the Year award at this year’s MT Awards.

Road hauliers have often incorporated charity logos into their vehicle liveries. And often, such links have personal stories attached to them, involving staff or family members going through trying times. Where Travis Perkins stood out in winning Livery of the Year at the Motor Transport Awards 2019 was in co-ordinating its activities between three of its businesses, creating what it calls a ‘living livery’.

For Travis Perkins the living livery means a move beyond the mere visual presentation of a vehicle into the creation of something that engages with the right people in the right way. That means getting the right audience to think about the message the charity has. It’s more than just raising awareness: Travis Perkins calls it a ‘visual handshake’ that helps its drivers, attending multiple delivery locations throughout the day, to start a conversation about what the charity represents. That, in turn, makes the drivers ambassadors for the charity in the true sense of the word.

Triple whammy

Karl Wilshaw, head of fleet at Travis Perkins, explains that the company is made up of 20-plus businesses, each of which enters a partnership with a charity. It is down to each individual business which cause they select. The three who partnered together to create the living livery are Keyline, the supplier of civils and drainage, which is supporting Prostate Cancer UK; CCF, Travis Perkins’ distributor of insulation and interior building products, which is supporting the Alzheimer’s Society; and BSS, the pipeline and heating solutions distributor, supporting mental health charity Mind.

“The livery drives the conversation. Drivers carry a living livery pack that contains leaflets for their charity to hand out. They are not raising money in the cab, they are raising awareness. Take prostate cancer – 87% of men are currently unaware of the risks and don’t know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. If one of these leaflets makes one man go and seek medical advice then it has all been worth it.”

This sentiment is backed up by CCF driver Richard Ellson, who drives the Alzheimer’s Society liveried vehicle: “I am overwhelmed with the amount of attention the vehicle attracts. I am approached by people sharing with me their own experiences and concerns. The company has provided me with handout material from the charity so I can really help those people who need it and increase awareness. I feel I am contributing positively towards a great cause.”

Travis Perkins Livery Preferred Image2

Travis Perkins' Living Livery

Meeting the challenge

While each business gets to appoint its own charity partner, it was Wilshaw that led the initiative to get the liveries on the Travis Perkins fleet. The idea was born out of an annual conference two years ago, where one of the charity partners gave a presentation. Wilshaw, who has been with the business for nearly four years, wanted to live up to the values of the company and the challenge laid down by senior management to do more. “I thought ‘why not work with the charities and get some liveries out there?’,” he says.

One of Travis Perkins’ five ‘cornerstones’ is upholding family values, he stresses. “The cornerstones are how we are presenting ourselves. We are a long established business, and we often talk about values and heritage.

“Doing [the living livery] is based on values established over many decades, it has become our DNA – it is what we do. But each business is challenged by each MD to go out there and do more.”

Considering that Travis Perkins raised £2.5m in 2018 doing more will not be easy but it is already targeting areas for success. The new year will start with 17 living liveries – one per trading region in the UK, for the three businesses participating in the initiative.

BSS is going one step further, expanding the livery supporting Mind from just the cab to the whole of the vehicle. “With each livery you are working in a limited space,” says Wilshaw. “The marketing teams work directly with the charities, moving backwards and forwards on the designs. The key thing was to make sure they are eye-catching. We did not want it to be too small or cut off too much.”

Vehicles running for Keyline, CCF and BSS showcasing charity partners are delivering to multiple construction sites a day and they generally serve major infrastructure projects. That means a big audience. For example, Prostate Cancer UK liveried trucks are being seen by employees on the A14 improvement project taking place in Cambridgeshire. “Where I really see the major impact is taking the vehicle in to big sites, where it can draw people into conversations,” says Wilshaw.

Encouraging feedback

The feedback so far has been highly encouraging. Wilshaw cites an email he received three weeks after receiving the award at the Grosvenor House hotel from host Omid Djalili and sponsor Pirelli: in it, a transport manager at a CCF site recounts a phone call he received from an employee at a customer site, saying how amazed he was by the efforts CCF was making to promote the Alzheimer’s society. The employee in question had recently lost his father who had suffered with the disease.

“This individual took the time to say how empowering he found that livery,” says Wilshaw. “Why do we do stuff like this in the industry? If you look at that email, and it was the only one I had ever got, then that was worth it. That single lorry has unlocked that conversation. To me, that is empowering.”

It is because of stories like these that Travis Perkins entered the Motor Transport Awards, and Wilshaw hopes others in the industry will follow its lead. “It is such a simple concept that hopefully other people in the industry might just do it. To win the award is great, and so is the publicity – but we want the recognition for the charity partners,” he says.

“Where I really see the major impact is taking the vehicles to these big construction sites and drawing people into the conversations – and across the other group businesses, seeing if we can expand the initiative,” he adds.

Despite winning the 2019 Motor Transport Livery of the Year award, it is clear that Travis Perkins still has its eyes on doing more.


The killer statistics

In supporting Prostate Cancer UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Mind, Keyline, CCF and BSS want awareness to be raised on construction sites around the following issues:

  • In the UK the biggest killer of males under 45 is suicide
  • Between 2011 and 2015, 1,419 people working in the construction industry took their own lives
  • One in four construction workers has reportedly considered suicide
  • Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men in the UK
  • Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer
  • There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK
  • Dementia numbers are expected to rise to over a million by 2025