There’s nothing more fun than creating than a billboard!
As someone who loves to conceptualize billboards, to come up with an idea that will stop a million drivers in their mental tracks, I must also admit to an ornery contrarian opinion that billboards should be outlawed, that billboard advertising is a subtle form of environmental pollution that goes mostly unnoticed, probably because of its historical roots. And because most billboards today are excruciatingly dull. More worthy to be called Bill-BOREDS than billboards.
Today, hardly anyone remembers Fleet National Bank, but not too long ago they were an aggressive player on the local bank scene. The billboard above was conceived by Rich Kerstein and myself back when we were a creative team at Arnold & Co.
See Below For More Mind-Massaging Billboards!
Ask yourself, what gives advertisers the right to intrude into the minds of the driving public just because they pay for the privilege? With advertising on TV and radio, and in publications, people understand the rules of the game and willingly endure ads for the sake of the programming. But nobody is given a choice to look at a billboard or close their eyes on a public thoroughfare.
But, hey, as long as they keep allowing billboards, I’ll keep on having my creative fun!
Anyway, the point here today is not to debate or deride billboards, but to share some of my favorite billboard creations. Such as…
This is one of my favorite billboards, though also one of my most embarrassing because we originally showed the logo so small it was difficult to read at 55 miles per hour. Once we sent the billboard artists back up to make the correction, everyone could see the sponsor was Taymor’s, a once proud chain of local shoe stores, who were itching to get their hands on your feet.
Next, a billboard that attracted national attention because Michael Dukakis was running for president when we first previewed the billboard on the Southeast Expressway. Back then, the line “Food for A King” sounded like a hackneyed cliche up until the name “Dukakis” reminded people of a different type of king—Ed King, former governor of Massachusetts who was notorious for treating his state trooper escorts to lobster dinners. Dukakis, who not only preceded King as governor, but also followed him in that office, was notoriously tight-fisted and non-royal in his use of the trappings of power.
My next three are W.B. Mason billboards. Over the years I must have created a dozen or more Mason billboards, most of which featured W.B. in some sort of epic or heroic situation. The one exception is the one below with its star attraction being the word/phrase I coined when introducing W.B. Mason’s new same-day delivery service, “gotta-hafta-geddit.” (to see the TV Commercial from the “Gotta-hafta-geddit” campaign, go to:
http://www.wbmason.com/AboutUs/commercials.html. (Look for “gotta hafta gedit”).
No other options exists when you Gotta-hafta-geddit today!
Using Our Competitor’s Size Against Them
We loved to use extensions to create visual tension and energy. Note that W.B. Hercules stands taller than the billboard, and that his chains are bursting apart, seemingly in mid-air.
Staking Claim To Our Turf (as seen on the Expressway leading into Boston)
Our most controversial billboard, this one had the bad luck to go up on the Southeast Expressway around the same time America sent troops into Kosovo and the Columbine shootings rocked the country. Irate motorists called to complain about the giant bazooka on the W.B. Mason billboard even though it was clearly (to us) a magic marker.
NOTE: none of the above billboards, or any that I created during my career, ever appeared on those newfound and ubiquitous electronic billboards. In my opinion, those digital billboards with their rapidly changing messages—along with the vertical blinds billboard that changes its message every 20 or 30 seconds—have very little value compared to the original one-board/one-message billboard. With all the billboards shown above, I owned the mental space surrounding the billboard. My message was never interrupted by someone else’s message. My billboards had the time they needed to craft a relationship with each and every driver that rode by. With electronic billboards you never finish absorbing one message before the next is wiping out any residual impression or reaction. When you saw one of my billboards from far away you began to react to it even before you were certain of what it was saying. If you couldn’t quite read it, or see the image, your curiosity was engaged and sustained as you approached. And your initial curiosity was given time to settle into an understanding, which then had time to mushroom into additional thoughts and reactions. Also, by the clever use of billboard extensions and a billboard’s three-dimensionality (see the Fleet board above) we had a tool by which we could enliven the usual billboard experience, having our message grow beyond the ordinary limits and physical restraints of a billboard.
To view my #1 Greatest Hits advertisement, click here. To view #2, click here. To view #3, click here. To view #4, click here. To view #5, click here.To read my story about creating “Who But W.B. Mason!,” click here. Or, if you’re interested in seeing other examples of my mind at work, visit my web site.. To speak with me about building or creating your company’s brand, contact me at 857-389-2158 or at PaulStevenStone@gmail.com.