Standing Ovation

An innovative way to sell ads brings this entrepreneur success.
This story first appeared in the May 2007 issue of Startups. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

What: Advertisements that stand upright in cup holders
Who: Matt Faulkner of ArmsLength Promotions
Where: Los Angeles
When: Started in 1999; patented in 2002
Startup costs: $40,000

The next time you go to a movie, you may be entertained before the show even starts. The latest trend in direct advertising is Arms-Length Promotions' product, the Stand-In, and it's grasping the attention of entire audiences, one cup holder at a time.

After arriving early to a movie with his son, ArmsLength founder and CEO Matt Faulkner, 48, noticed the untapped potential of stadium seating cup holders as a medium for advertising. By 2002, Faulkner secured a patent for the Stand-In and set the stage for a new wave of advertising in entertainment venues across the nation. Using only friction and postcard-weight card stock, the Stand-In fits securely into and stands upright in almost any cup holder without blocking it.

ArmsLength's clients, including McDonald's and Major League Baseball, have the opportunity to customize their Stand-Ins beyond strict advertisements. Not only does the perforated base double as a detachable coupon, but the attention-grabbing vertical advertisement can put promotional items such as schedules, collectibles or even DVDs within easy reach of each person in the audience. "The intimacy of [the Stand-In]," says Faulkner, "demands [that consumers] interact with it because it is so close." In addition, ArmsLength's ability to adapt to the predicted interests of a target demographic based on the type of event they are attending ensures the message will be received.

After patenting the Stand-In for roughly $40,000, ArmsLength Promotions has continued to expand the use of its product to new and innovative venues. No longer limited to theaters and stadiums, the Stand-In is now found in airports, hotels, gyms, hospitals and even rental cars--basically anywhere and everywhere there's a cup holder. Clients are praising the Stand-In's unique ability to get into the personal space of consumers, and ArmsLength Promotions is expected to grab sales of more than $500,000 in 2007.

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