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Art to Save Billboards?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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People do not like being sold to — we know that. Who would like messages about things and stuff they didn't like being screamed at them? Very few. However, being the visual creatures we are, people like to look at things. It's very interesting. 

When we did our report on Advertising in Society, one statistic really jumped out at us. Out of the population of people we surveyed, the majority enjoyed magazine ads and billboard ads more than any other medium. Now don't get it twisted; we're not saying effective, but enjoyed. In that same report, that majority believed that TV was still the most effective medium.

But we digress.

There is some talk amongst the fringes of banning advertising like billboards in metropolitan areas. Several factions are calling billboards and their relatives "advertising pollution" or "visual pollution," stating that the signs and ads are damaging the natural landscape. 


Well, interestingly enough, five museums, a trade group, and an art initiative had something different in mind. The initiative Art Everywhere used five museums to pick 50 pieces of renowned art and showcase it in 50,000 different locations across the United States. The goal? First, to raise the profile of the five museums. Second, to educate the American people on what good art looks like. Third, to shift the minds on the fence away from "visual pollution" and rebuild rapport with billboards.

Our source referenced the fact that many brands are flocking to the shiny object that is the digital landscape and are leaving the Out of Home space. Out of the projected $180-billion-dollar ad spend in the U.S., billboards are slated to receive a mere four percent of that.

On the flip side, $7.2 billion isn't a bad-looking number either.

As the digital space crowds and fragments, the consumers most brands want are those consumers on the move. The consumers willing to spend money will also likely either own a car, or live near a street with a billboard. To us, though billboards sound boring, they are an underestimated treasure. And unless the government gets involved, we doubt that billboards are going away any time soon.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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