As an agency, ChappellRoberts was excited to watch the movie ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri‘ take home some Oscars earlier this week. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a small-town grieving mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder. There’s obviously a sense of familiarity within the movie, although heart-wrenching, especially the scene when the agency is working with Mildred (the main character) to help create the message for her billboards. Ultimately, it is an awesome reminder of the billboard’s enduring appeal and reach.
In my opinion, this movie helped spur the recent trend of purchasing billboards for reasons other than selling a product or service. If you haven’t seen any in your town or if you’ve been living under a rock, below are some of my favorite examples:
-The entire sports world paid attention to the #PhillyWantsLebron boards outside Cleveland last month. It wasn’t done in vain either – the company who purchased these boards didn’t even promote their brand in the creative, which would obviously go viral. It was solely a conversation piece meant to “hint” at Philly’s feelings about the potential to have King James himself transfer to the city. And just last night, LA decided to take part in the fun with their own #LABron billboards. Contrary to the #PhillyWantsLeBron boards, these had a bit of self-promotion from the person who bought them.
-Billboards, and advertising in general, to make political points is not a new concept, but these out-of-home pieces followed the “3 Billboards” style by using the advertising space to push for law enforcement action after a tragedy.
-In 2017, Spotify had an outdoor campaign riddled with witty copy utilizing user data; their campaign included billboards, subway bulletins, bus posters and wallscapes to display their colorful ads. These hilarious billboards that poked fun at our listening choices but helped us realize how relatable we are all as humans. I’m a Spotify user and was waiting to get called out for my listening habits.
-Finally, there’s the boards that made you jealous of Serena Williams (by putting all husbands to shame). Forget flowers, billboards are the new wave.
The industry is excited to see this trend because billboards often are overlooked or seen as outdated, boring and expensive. The Outdoor Advertising Association of America even extended its congratulations to the movie with billboards mimicking the design of those used in the movie.
Each billboard’s message speaks broadly to everyone passing by and its power to communicate is practically unlimited. Billboards can be just as creative as other mediums, and it’s refreshing to witness this trend unfold across industries as a new wave of viral creativity.