DALLAS – You can’t very well be the walking symbol of goodwill for an entire industry and have people referring to you as “what’s-its-name, that truck thingy.”
But from its debut in May, that was the Trucking Moves America Forward mascot’s lot in life, even as it began its duties as the embodiment of TMAF’s mission to promote and enhance the image of the trucking industry, appearing at the Truckers Jamboree in Wolcott, Iowa, and at the National Truck Driving Championships in Orlando.
Even during the first two days at the Great American Trucking Show, as it moved around the convention floor, posing for pictures, occasionally breaking out in dance and leaving a trail of happy faces behind it, it did so anonymously.
All that changed on the opening of Day 3, however, as Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express Inc., chairman of the American Trucking Associations and co-chairman of TMAF, took to the Red Eye Radio stage just outside the convention floor entrance to officially reintroduce the mascot, by name.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, meet Safety Sammy.
Trucking Moves America Forward was launched at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky to promote a positive image for the trucking industry ensure that policymakers and the general public understand trucking’s scope and importance, its economic significance to America and of the work truck drivers put in to deliver goods across the nation safely and on time.
“TMAF is an industrywide image movement,” Burch said. “It’s not a campaign. Campaigns are finite. This is something intended to be continuous.
At a press conference at GATS the day before Safety Sammy’s christening, Burch highlighted some of the progress TMAF has made in the three and a half years in getting its message across through news stories, digital campaigns and grassroots efforts.
Highlights that Burch said demonstrate the popularity and growth of the industry movement include:
TMAF also continues to build on its online presence, Burch explained during the press conference. Through its website, truckingmovesamerica.com, subscribers get regular email updates on industry happenings. Visitors can access key messages; talking points; press materials; sample speeches and editorials; donation and pledge information; trailer wrap information; and useful visuals for amplifying TMAF’s image, such as videos, social media shareables, and advertisements.
They can also by TMAF-branded gear at the TMAF e-store, shoptmaf.com.
TMAF's growing social media following includes:
The addition of Safety Sammy is a fun and friendly way to raise awareness of TMAF and its message at live events.
“We have a mascot because it is long overdue,” Burch said. We need to tell our story, what we do every day. The mascot’s helping us amplify trucking’s voice both within the community and outside the industry.”
Burch was on hand in May when the then-unnamed mascot was unveiled at the Pilot Travel Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, in May, and proved to be an instant hit.
“People wanted to gravitate around the mascot,” Burch said. The same thing could be seen at GATS. Kids, especially, want to have their picture taken with it.
It was also announced at that Knoxville debut that the mascot needed a name, and they wanted suggestions from the public. The response was overwhelming, Burch said. In a month, nearly 2,000 entries poured in on the TMAF website, from which five finalists were chosen. In addition to Safety Sammy the other choices were Axle, Bob Tail, Seymour S. Miles and Wheels.
Online voting continued right up until midnight the night before the announcement, with about 2,000 votes tallied overall.
Immediately after the announcement, Safety Sammy was fitted with a custom license plate bearing his name, after which he got back to work, taking a celebratory lap around the convention floor.
“Safety Sammy represents the safety we strive for each and every day on the road,” Burch said. “We’re looking forward to taking Sammy coast to coast, to tell the vital trucking story.”