Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Billboards – Distractions or Inventive

We see them every day on the highway, on a main street in our town, or even right outside our yards. . . . .
Billboards have been around since ancient times, but became part of the American landscape in the 1950s when the Interstate Highway System was built.  As Americans began driving longer distances, companies realized the potential wide open spaces that could be used for their products and so major billboards began. 

They help us find the places to sleep, eat, get gas for our cars, and conveniences like banks.  They can be funny, downright strange, offensive, or even ironic. However you view them, billboards are a part of our lives. Whether you enjoy the 3D versions with objects that hang from or stick out from them or get irritated with the constant half naked ads, we look at them and take in what they have to say.
In a recent article in the New York Times blog, it was noted that the Dove Corporation was holding a new promotion in which the winners will have their pictures displayed on a billboard in Times Square.  The called “Show Us Your Skin” contest is directed at women who are to submit tasteful pictures of their skin.  I view this use of advertising as positive for both the self-image of woman and advertising as a whole.  Seeing “real” women on a billboard instead of airbrushed, hyper sexed, anorexics is a welcome change.  This is a very inventive use of advertising.
In a similar article in from MailOnline dated June 2012, the contrast to the positivity Dove is attempting to promote can be seen in what I view as negative stereotyping of woman in the same location – Time Square New York.  Rihanna is featured in a full size billboard where the red-head is covering her naked body with only her arms.  The ad is to promote her latest fragrance, Rebelle.  If this isn’t distracting, I don’t know what is. 
There have long been debates over the placement and the content of billboards, but one has to admit, they get the job done no matter who has issue with them. 
For more information on the above topics, please visit:


  1. Billboards, we see them every day, and they are distractions, but what is more they send messages. With every billboard, we see a message, and often this message comes along with a picture. When considering a billboard with a picture, we are actually getting two messages, a reminder of a product or service, and the subconscious message that buying that good or product will somehow make our lives better. Billboards that advertise jeans may be selling jeans, but notice that the models for those jeans are always fit and attractive, not unhealthy and poor looking. I wish that using subconscious messages like this did not work, but they do, and we need to be aware of that.Because billboards like the one above are more than just distractions, they are illusions that can have serious consequences.

  2. Outdoor advertising is the oldest and most basic type of advertising. Billboard advertisements are designed to catch a person’s attention and create a memorable impression very quickly, leaving the reader thinking about the advertisement after they have driven past it. They have to be readable in a very short time because they are usually read while being passed at high speeds. A newspaper ad is only good for a day and a television commercial only lasts about thirty seconds. The same logic applies to radio spots. But a billboard ad is advertising twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

  3. I agree Millicent, billboard advertising is one of the oldest form of advertising and ones that people cannot ignore no matter what. I tend to watch out for billboards a lot because they mostly have important information. But the 3D ones especially like the one of naked Rihanna do not help fulfill what it is really meant for because i think it is a little bit too distraction for drivers and pedestrians.

  4. I also am a huge fan of Dove's latest ads that promote the "normal" woman and help boost the self esteem of not only the model(s) that are chosen for the ads but also the average consumer. It's a great idea, and I would hope that more companies would hop on that band wagon and change their marketing tactics to match it. Billboards need to be regulated to a degree... focusing and offering only useful information and not the nude pictures selling perfume.
    One of the things that I love the most about Alaska is that we have repeatedly voted against billboards as a state. They have tried several times to graffiti our beautiful land with the billboards that cover the rest of the country but it always fails. They are huge and distracting and take away from the natural beauty of nature.
    That being said, I do love the convenience that billboards offer when traveling from city to city in search of a hotel, restaurant or even a bathroom stop. When we lived in the states and had to drive through Canada twice a year to return to AK, they saved our skins several times as we did not have cell service to make our search easier.
    And that leads me to my main point, because our cell phones offer so much now days, are these billboards completely necessary anymore? When in the country, you can receive service nearly everywhere, and there are not many people who do not have internet access via their phone, so accessing the same information is literally at the tip of our fingers, and may not be necessary as a gigantic roadside distractions. Just a thought...