The film’s main character, Mildred Hayes, speaks to the power of OOH as a tool to grab attention: “I don’t know what the police are doing. I haven’t heard a word from them in seven months. I’ll tell you this… I’ve heard an awful lot from them since I put those billboards up.”
As a result, billboards have become global celebrities, and any group or person wishing to have their voice heard is currently using three of them. And, they too, are getting the desired attention with viral social media and a lot of press.
Earlier this month, protesters set up three mobile billboards around London to bring renewed attention to last year’s deadly Grenfell Tower fire. Designed to mimic the film’s billboards, the messages read:
And Still No Arrests?
— BBH Labs (@BBHLabs) February 15, 2018
In Miami, activists employed the same high-profile tactic to question Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) after a gunman killed 17 at a high school in Parkland, FL. Three digital trucks sat outside Sen. Rubio’s office, asking, “
Slaughtered in School
And Still No Gun Control?
How Come, Marco Rubio?
— The Hill (@thehill) February 16, 2018
Days later, the same graphic style was seen on a digital billboard in the hometown of US House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), calling for “gun reform.” The ad said:
17 Killed in Their Classrooms
Still No Gun Reform?
How Come, Paul Ryan?
— The Hill (@thehill) February 21, 2018
New York, NY
Last week, the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, a coalition of medical and humanitarian organizations, set up three mobile billboards outside of the United Nations in New York, urging the Security Council to act on the violence happening in Syria.
The billboards say:
500 Dead in Syria
And Still No Action?
How Come, Security Council?
Physicians for Human Rights posted a video to YouTube explaining why they chose to target the UN with three billboards. The video is titled “Three Billboards Outside the United Nations.”
— Susannah Sirkin (@susannahsirkin) February 24, 2018
In Naples, Italy, last week, activists used three mobile billboards to protest against Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party.
The billboards say (translated from Italian to English):
I Said You Stink.
Now I Want Your Vote.
Why Not, Southerners?
Activists in Malta put up three billboards demanding justice for assassinated journalist Dapne Caruana Galizia.
The billboards say:
Journalist Killed. No Justice.
A Country Robbed. No Justice.
No Resignations. No Justice.
“We were inspired by the film, because with the Maltese government’s disregard for the rule of law, living in Malta at the moment is pretty much like living in a mafia movie,” activist group OccupyJustice told LovinMalta.com.
Since “coincidentally” the authorities chose same day that the #threebillboards went up to clamp down on billboards, #occupyjusticema took their messages directly to the Prime Minister’s office #DaphneCaruanaGalizia #Malta #V18 pic.twitter.com/NHdc6pv9UX
— Anika (@AnikaPSavona) February 19, 2018
During her acceptance speech at the British Academy Film Awards, Frances McDormand commented on the phenomenon, stating she is “thrilled that activists all over the world have been inspired by the set decoration of the three billboards in Martin’s film.”
The movie has inspired the use of billboards to gain attention for non-political reasons, as well.
To root on the film’s nominations for Golden Globes and Oscars, the OOH industry posted Three Billboards-like messaging to digital billboards across the country, including Times Square and Asheville, NC, where the movie was filmed. Messages said “On Behalf of Billboards Everywhere, Thank You,” and “This Billboard Deserves as Oscar.”
Following last night’s win, digital billboards congratulated the film on this Oscars. Click here for a video.
“As long-time billboard ambassadors, we felt this was a great way to highlight the simplicity, relevance, and effectiveness of the medium,” Rob Jackson, creative director and principal of Extra Credit Projects, the company that designed the billboards, told M Live.
The Director’s Hometown
Three billboards have also been erected in County Galway to congratulate McDonagh on the success of his film – in Gaelic. The billboards said the London-born director, who has Irish parents, was both a “big star of Hollywood” and a “big star of Leitir Mealláin,” a village in Connemara.
— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) February 19, 2018
The Three Billboards craze has made its way into the sports world, as well. The CEO of a home remodeling company in Chester, PA, bought space on three digital billboards along the highway into downtown Cleveland enticing basketball superstar LeBron James to join the Philadelphia 76ers after this season.
One of the billboards reads ”#PhillyWantsLeBron.” Another says “Complete The Process,” a reference to the 76ers’ “Trust the Process” mantra.
Philly-based Power Home Remodeling is company behind three billboards in Cleveland that suggest LeBron should join the Sixers https://t.co/oAiz6YLDc3
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 26, 2018
The three billboards caught James’s attention. He said they are “very flattering,” according to ESPN.
On Friday, NBC Nightly News aired a special on how the film has inspired real-life action.
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