What fun: Billboards that raised hackles this summer
How do you get people to pay attention to your ads?
August 29, 2016
You probably wouldn’t expect a billboard for a Mexican restaurant to get people’s noses out of joint.
But in out of home advertising, it’s all in how you deliver the message.
A Mexican restaurant in South Bend, Indiana, decided to jump into this summer’s political fray with a billboard that stirred up a slew of controversy and drew a ton of local and national attention to what could have been just another billboard.
That’s the value in controversy. It delivers your message to more people. While you may run the risk of offending some, at least you got their attention.
Every year there are loads of billboards that push the limits, offending because of their sexual content or what they have to say about this or that public issue or political candidate. Here are a few that popped up this summer.
Mexican restaurant plays off Trump’s wall
The copy was an obvious and timely dig at Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who insists he’ll erect a wall between the U.S. and Mexico if elected and says he’ll make Mexico pay for it, a position that’s unpopular with Hispanics.
Not everyone was amused. La Casa de Amistad, a youth and community center in South Bend, led protests over the billboard.
Its executive director told a local TV station, “There’s a difference between funny and being offensive. I think they really need to think about how can you just be a little more fun without having to be degrading of demeaning.”
But the folks at Hacienda certainly got their point across.
Sign: ‘Hate cops? Call a crackhead.’
Elsewhere in Indiana, this time in Muncie, an electronic billboard touched on the unrest between the police and communities around the country.
It used an inflammatory question to draw attention.
The ad read, “Hate cops? The next time you need help call a crackhead.”
Locals in Muncie denounced the ad as divisive, and the owner of the liquor store where the ad appeared complained to the billboard company. The ad was later taken down.
The big mystery is who placed the pro-police ad. The local police claim they were not behind it. Whoever put it up made their point very effectively.
Safe sex offends in Florida
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation placed two billboards in Broward County, each featuring an image of a condom. The words on the signs read simply, “Prevents Zika transmission.”
The point was to let people know that the virus can be transmitted sexually as well as by mosquitoes.
The billboards were taken down after the Fort Lauderdale mayor’s office and the local tourism board complained to the sign company.
An AHF spokesperson told local station WSVN he thinks that some may find the ads offensive, but public health is more important than “someone’s sensibilities being offended.”
Drawing people’s attention, good or bad, was the point.
Cosmetic surgeon: Size matters
A high school student found one of them offensive and promptly contacted the business.
The ad in question featured coffee cups on each side. The cup on the left featured the letter “B,” and the much larger one on the right had the letter “D,” obvious references to bra cup sizes.
In between the ads were the words, “Size matters.”
The student later started a Change.org campaign, but the business owner declined the take the billboard down.
More breast-related controversy
How much Mariah Carey is too much?
As the singer promotes her latest Las Vegas residency, two California airports want her to cover up.
Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County objected to boards at their locations promoting Carey’s Caesars Palace show, according to TMZ.
The photo on the board features Carey showing a great deal of cleavage, with just a bit of glittery fabric draped across her chest.
A spokesperson for Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport told USA Today the airport requested the artwork be revised to leave a bit more to the imagination.
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