Johnny Advertising is now EverywhereUGO

TRAVERSE CITY – Johnny Advertising, based in Traverse City, has changed its name to EverywhereUGO, embarking on an ambitious expansion plan. CEO Matt Meyers says the name change will allow them to expand into new markets everywhere from Aspen to Argentina.

Meyers brought restroom advertising to northern Michigan in 1999 when he licensed the name Johnny Advertising for all areas north of Manistee from Grand Rapids-based Johnny Advertising Management Co.

After posting strong growth, Meyers was considering new markets outside of Michigan. But in order to move into new territories, Meyers was required to pay additional licensing fees to continue to use the Johnny Advertising name. He chose instead to adopt a new moniker and sever ties with his Grand Rapids affiliate.

"We had a 60-day out clause in our contract, and we took it," said Meyers. "(Johnny Advertising Co. owner) David Turner was willing to sell us the entire business, but I didn't have any interest in the markets he serves. Our plan is to target smaller resort towns far away from here."

Meyers' operation owns 8.5" X 11" "billboards" inside more than 350 restaurant and hotel restrooms throughout northern Michigan. Advertisers pay a flat fee each month to have their ads rotate among many locations. Longtime northern Michigan advertisers include America's Carpet Barn, Traverse Mortgage, Victories Casino, and Pure Water Works. The company also sells ads in the restrooms of Traverse City parks, marinas, and the Senior Center.

Meyers says the company is now focused on developing new markets that mirror Traverse City-cities too small to be noticed by national advertising companies but popular among tourists who dine out. The first markets the company is studying include Aspen and South Padre Island. Meyers predicts they will also enter Argentina before year's end. The company will build a licensing or franchise program, based in large part on its web site, which will serve as a password-protected portal for advertisers and franchisees. The site is being developed by EverywhereUGO and TC-based Flightpath Creative.

Despite the expansion into far-flung places, Meyers says northern Michigan will always be the company's home. "We're staying right here," he said.