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Is It Just Us, or Are Billboards Getting Better?
Date: March 06, 2018
The idea that a citizen or company can use billboards to spread a personal message, like McDormand's character does in the movie, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is suddenly catching fire.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know about the Oscar-nominated movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. If you’re not much of a moviegoer, the gist is that a mother whose daughter was murdered uses three billboards to get a message across to investigators, pressuring them to find her daughter’s killer (see above still of very pissed Frances McDormand and her boards). And while billboards are nothing new (they date back to the 1800s!), the idea that a citizen or company can use them to spread a personal message, like McDormand's character does in the movie, is suddenly catching fire.
First, there was the series of three billboards put up in Cleveland, Ohio, where NBA star LeBron James plays, trying to lure him to Philadelphiawhen he becomes a free agent this summer. A Pennsylvania-based company, Power Home Remodeling, paid for the billboards simply because (like all Philly sports fans) they are super passionate about their home team, the 76ers, and want LeBron to feel the love, hoping he’ll join the team and win them some championships. News of the billboards spread into mainstream media and eventually caught the attention of LeBron, who commented that he was “flattered.” Of course, as expected, Cleveland clapped back with a billboard of their own, bragging to Philly that they have the king (for now). Surely we’re bound to see similar billboard wars, which, when you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, is totally welcome entertainment.
Then there’s the billboard love letter, which is a very expensive way to publicly express love and adoration for someone. This started in 2016 when the rapper Drake put up a billboard in L.A. congratulating fellow artist (and rumored love interest) Rihanna on her Video Music Award. Rihanna, flattered, of course, posted a picture of it on her Instagram, spreading the message to her millions of followers and earning Drake a good pat on the back for a bold move. Speaking of millions, that’s the kind of money you have to have to pull off this kind of stunt. Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian put up four billboards on the I-10 freeway outside of Palm Springs dedicated to his wife, tennis star Serena Williams, which, at around $5,000 a pop, plus the cost of design, probably came to around $25,000. Presumably, that isn’t far off from what a millionaire would spend on a celebratory piece of jewelry or gift for a loved one, so the billboard love letter could certainly catch on with that crowd.
Finally, there is the billboard as a call to social action. This is not terribly new—billboards have been used by activists to make statements for decades. But last week, three billboards went up in L.A.suggesting that a child-abuse case has been covered up Weinstein-style in Hollywood and demanding that Oscar winners and presenters “name names” of abusers during the televised show.
The difference here is that the billboards were not paid for. Instead, the street artist known as Sabo covered existing advertisements with the message, almost like an extreme form of graffiti. We’re guessing it takes a few days to pull something like that down, which gives the billboards enough time to get the message spread on social media and picked up by all the major news outlets. Genius!
So, instead of zoning out to that podcast on your commute, take a look at the boards around you—they may be trying to tell you something.
via 2018 Architectural Digest
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