NOT EVERYBODY in Seattle hates traffic. In fact, some people think it's great. Meet, a Silicon Valley-based company that actually plans to profit off your misery while you're trapped in traffic.

"We're hoping to build a brand name in Seattle," says Autowraps founder Daniel Schifrin. With Seattle's tight geography, traffic congestion, and hot economy, Autowraps is targeting the Puget Sound area as its next market. What are their plans? Autowraps wants to pay you big bucks to transform your car -- with vinyl adhesives -- into a mobile logo. Just like the HomeGrocer trucks or the ad-plastered Metro buses, your car can get a logo makeover. The "wrapped" car, whether sitting in traffic or driving the city streets, offers marketers an ad that cannot be "switched off, tuned out, or lost in a quicksand of other advertisements," proclaims the Autowraps website. Get ready Seattle -- the future of advertising has pulled up to your driveway.

With traffic numbers reaching unprecedented highs, advertisers are spending big bucks to attract drivers. In 1999, for example, advertisers spent $4.8 billion on outdoor advertising, and the industry is growing at a rate of 10 percent a year, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association. Outdoor advertising is "red-hot right now," says Brad Johnson of Advertising Age magazine, but there is a "shortage of space available in key markets." Billboard prices, for example, have skyrocketed (and are even unavailable in some cities), and radio ads have shot up to over $1,000 per 30-second spot. The realities of supply and demand have forced companies to look at other advertising options. Enter Autowraps. Operating on the advertising principle of "more clutter to get through the clutter," Autowraps is entering the traffic market in a new way, by entering the traffic.

Here's how it works: Drivers who want to make their cars available to corporate advertisers put themselves in Autowraps' database. To be in the database, drivers must answer a variety of questions designed to let companies know who they are. For example, what kind of music do you like? Do you like sports? Where do you shop? How old are you? Do you have kids? What restaurant do you go to? And more importantly, where do you drive, how often do you drive, and where do you park? Once these questions are answered, drivers are entered into the database, where they are considered "inventory," says Schifrin.

Interested companies browse the database, looking for driver profiles and driving patterns that appeal to their particular advertising campaign. For example, if a company, like Budweiser, wants to target students in Seattle, it might pick all students entered in the database who go to the University of Washington. Autowraps would then contact the students about the campaign, and their cars would be taken for a day of aesthetic prep work, transformed through vinyl adhesives into Budweiser logos. The idea is that the students, and their newly "wrapped" cars, will drive to the university, park in the school parking lots, and be seen at parties or events. Thus, Budweiser hits its demographic target.

Drivers in the Autowraps program get a whopping $400 a month to drive an ad on wheels. The money sounds enticing, huh? Don't buy your new cell phone yet.

All cars in the Autowraps program are tracked by satellite every four minutes. Everywhere you drive, when you drive, where you park, how fast you're going -- all will be identified by a global-positioning satellite system created by the military. Dubbed NAVSTAR, the system is operated by the Department of Defense, and rented out for civilian use. The information collected is then downloaded from space to the Autowraps database, "providing crucial data and control to our clients," Schifrin says. The satellite receiver plugs into the car's cigarette lighter. In addition to being tracked, drivers have to sign a five-year contract, wash their car regularly, and drive at least 1,000 miles a month.

Moreover, "Field Monitors," as Autowraps calls them, visit the house or pre-approved site of every driver once a month. There, the monitor checks that the car is still covered in ads and that the odometer and satellite system have not been tampered with. After the car is inspected, the driver gets paid. Oh, there is one more thing. The drivers must be inspected as well. Just a little check "to see that the eyes are clear, if you know what I mean," says Schifrin.

The Autowraps company may seem creepy to some, but you can see how a business would love it. Traffic has reached record numbers nationally, with the tally of cars on the road up 147 percent since 1970, according to a 1995 National Public Transportation survey. The Puget Sound Regional Council of Government says Seattle traffic is expected to increase 25 percent by the year 2020. And there are a lot of consumers in those cars. The Federal Highway Transportation Administration estimates that drivers of personal vehicles see an average of 750,000 visual impressions per month.

This new advertising concept by Autowraps is becoming a reality, and attracting big companies. Firms like Yahoo! and Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream are signing on, and Autowraps has expanded its operations to Seattle, Austin, and San Francisco. In Seattle, The Stranger has begun running Autowraps ads that ask drivers to offer up their cars as billboard space, and soon local radio stations and daily papers will be making the pitch, says Schifrin. In the ads, Schifrin explains, Autowraps targets "blue-collar workers and students" because "they probably need the money."

Whether you're poor or not, it's hard to argue with $400 just to put some advertising on your car. In fact, it may even bring you notoriety. Percy Ramirez, a student from San Jose, California, who is taking part in the Autowraps program, says, "I'm a celebrity, man! People come up to me all the time, wanting to talk, wanting to check out my car." When asked about the satellite tracking and the potential of his privacy being compromised, Ramirez says, "As long as it doesn't mess up my car, brother."

With willing citizen advertisers like Ramirez in tow, the ad-dominated world (long prophesied by advertising executives) is upon us. "Any space you take in visually, anything you hear, in the future will be branded," Regina Kelly, director of strategic planning of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, told Business Week in 1996. She's right. The favorite ballpark (Safeco Field), the skyscraper (Key Tower), the insidious product placement in movies and sitcoms (the Friends cast pitching Diet Coke), and now your own car, are all part of the new media landscape. With the help of companies like, advertisers are building a world where everything you see or hear is one big logo.