Media company provides essentials for business during pandemic

Terraboost Wellness Kiosk in Jewel Osco
Terraboost Media wellness kiosks (right) provide businesses with advertising space on sanitary wipe dispensers. During the pandemic, kiosks like this one in a Jewel-Osco grocery store help shoppers stay safe. (Bennett Baker/MEDILL)

By Bennett Baker
Medill Reports

Since 2006, Terraboost Media has been combining wellness and marketing by pairing sanitizing gel and wipe stations with advertisements in malls, grocery stores and other businesses. For businesses trying to keep their doors open during the pandemic, keeping patrons safe is paramount. With the spike in demand for hand-sanitizer and wipes, the company has grown 600% since February.

The Illinois-based company was founded by two brothers, Brian and Brett Morrison, after selling their coffee-sleeve advertising company. Looking for a new functional media opportunity, the pair came up with the idea to advertise on sanitizer kiosks, so that clients can advertise while providing visitors with the products they need to stay safe.

While Terraboost Media began in malls, grocery stores and pharmacies, demand for wellness kiosks has skyrocketed due in part to COVID-19 reopening guidelines. Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Brett Morrison explains more about the company’s journey this year.

Who advertises through Terraboost Media?
I’ve kind of always looked at it as an out-of-home billboard sort of meets direct mail, so it is micro messaging but on a massive scale. It can go from very hyper local to national ads. And that’s the breadth of our network, when you have 100,000 plus locations, you’re reaching millions of consumers every day.

What businesses have started showing a new interest in wellness kiosks during the pandemic?
An easy example would be probably more retail, like clothing and jewelry. We now work with Tiffany’s jewelry. That’s sort of an environment that I wouldn’t have seen us working with before March, and afterwards, it made sense. We also have started providing sanitary goods to a number of universities as well. That’s another category that previously we hadn’t been that engaged with, but now we can help from kindergarten to high school and on up to a university level.

We have a number of great clients like that. They needed help in a time of need to be able to literally open their doors and make any money, because until they met guidelines, they couldn’t open up.

How has the pandemic affected Terraboost Media?
Pre-pandemic, we were a media company that had sanitizer as our hook and a nice baseline product. I think what happened in March is it flipped to a critical supply item.

What has the 600% growth since February looked like?
A lot of our growth went [to] just making sure we could maintain the supply chain and take good care of all of our valued partners that have trusted us. What we’re doing to control growth is bifurcating it into two segments where we have our advertising media growth, and then we have our product side growth.

What challenges are presented to a company that faces this kind of growth?
I think with any company and having growth, you are stress tested at every corner, and it’s just how you react and how you pivot and how you adapt. I don’t think that we’re special in that regard, we are blessed to be in a position where we can continue to grow and employ more people and expand our company or a lot.

Looking at the end of the year, now we’re focusing on the media side of our business, which is our bread and butter. So it’s the same message we’ve been saying for the last decade, I think there’s just more people who are willing to listen now, and are more receptive to it, and understand people need these [kiosks] and are looking for these and use these all the time.

What does COVID-19 mean for Terraboost Media and the marketing industry moving forward?
Prior to this, I’m sure you had some consumers out there that, they’d rather lick the ground and eat dirt and, you know, [say] ‘germs are good for you.’ And I feel like that mentality has to have shifted now.

Hopefully, God willing, the pandemic ends, but I think people’s level of washing their hands and using soap and water when at home, and just being a little smarter and using sanitizer when you’re on the go and using a wipe to wipe down your shopping cart I think that’s gonna last for a long time.

So I think from our business perspective, I would say it’s never been stronger. We’ve been saying this for a decade, but now, there’s more consumer receptiveness to this concept.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Bennett Baker is a social justice and investigative reporter at Medill. You can follow him on Twitter at @BennettBaker7.