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Now That’s Funny: Exit 168 brought to you by Cialis!

njturnpikeFL061010_optBY PAM LOBLEY
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
NOW THAT'S FUNNY

A new idea is being proposed by New Jersey lawmakers: let advertisers and sponsors place signs at toll plazas on the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and the Atlantic City Expressway.

Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden) and Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex) co-sponsored the bill as a way to raise revenue for the state without raising the gas tax. The bill passed the Transportation Committee 10-0, and is headed to Speaker Sheila Oliver who will decide to take it to a floor vote. Given how broke the state is, it seems like an idea whose time has come.

New Jersey's many exits seem tailor-made for niche advertising. The various diverse populations of Jersey can be reached via their favorite exits. As bus loads of seniors head to Atlantic City, how about ads for Miracle Ear or Lipitor? At plazas near the shore I envision ads for sunscreen, salons with waxing specials and an alcohol rebab facility. Up near Paramus, the shopping mecca, there could be signs for a credit card consolidation service.

Putting ads in toll plazas is such a natural I can't believe we haven't thought of it before. Why, Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson is even toying with the idea of selling naming rights to the toll plazas themselves. Well, if you can have Citi Field in New York and Staples Center in Los Angeles, it's only a matter of time before you have The Castrol Brake Fluid Lincoln Tunnel Tollbooth.

The sky is the limit for toll plaza naming. How about the "Jim McGreevey Rest Stop ... Extra Clean Stalls in a Secluded Glen". "The Tony ‘The Screw' Garbanzo Plaza ... Still Under Construction." And "The New Jersey Nets All Cash Lanes — If Your Coins Don't Make The Basket, Its OK!"

Sure, it might be a little distracting, but we Americans are used to that. We are diverted by ads as they pop up on our computers, run in movie theatres before the feature, and or even play on a little TV screen at the grocery checkout line. In fact, we're eager to be distracted. That's why we whip out our iphones the second we're alone.

So now, products and services will take advantage of the captive, rolling audience driving on our highways each day. Toll plaza ads ... they're not just a way to raise money, they're a way to say: hey New Jersey drivers: hang up the phone and read our ads instead!

Pam Lobley writes the "Now That's Funny" column. Sign up for her mailing list at www.pamlobley.com.

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