A while back, we were presenting a media strategy to a client. As he was reviewing the proposal, he looked up and inquired “What do you think about billboards on I-15?” I replied “You just drove 10 miles to get here and passed about 75 billboards. Can you recall a single one of them?” Sadly, he admitted he couldn’t.

What am I sharing? And do Facebook friends count?

What am I sharing? And do Facebook friends count?

After all these years in this business, I still get stoked when I’m out & about and see my work. Seeing the fruits of my labors 48 by 14 feet on the interstate gives me warm fuzzies. Even evokes a muffled “ƒ#©% yeah!” to myself. Unfortunately, the crafting a message for  out-of-home media (the industry trade name for billboards, et al) has bypassed a generation of clients and advertising professionals.

The cold, hard facts are that, in this day and age, in this market, billboards suck. They suck so bad that they’ve turned off consumers to them. People have been so disappointed for so long that they’ve become numb to the medium. The few good – even great – executions don’t get noticed because consumers have been conditioned to tune them out. As the battlefield for mindshare has grown more fierce, this medium is arming itself with nothing but blanks. This is the most expensive real estate in the world and advertisers are furnishing it with folding chairs and worn out Chesterfields.

Don't need it. But at least I can read it.

Don’t need it. But at least I can read it.

I have a theory (I have a lot of theories, some have even been proven as fact). My theory is that this market is so heavily dominated by very aggressive media salespeople that go directly to advertisers – bypassing the agencies – and convincing them with skewed statistics telling them that the media is the message. All they need do is get their name up and the money tree will start shaking. And the advertisers do it! Then they’re amazed when there is no ROI due to a poor execution. Putting them off advertising for good – until the next media rep with magic beans comes along.

"Pack your bags, honey. We're moving". Said nobody ever.

“Pack your bags, honey. We’re moving”. Said nobody ever.

Now, if I was spending my precious dallah$ to purchase space, I would want to put a little bit aside to make sure I furnish that space to get the most use out of it.