There are so many different billboard signs around, almost anyone with a car can identify a dozen of them within a one mile surrounding radius. Advertisers always need to support marketing efforts with solid data from research. This principle is at the core of any good billboard advertising endeavor, meaning that you cannot simply just brainstorm through all of the ways an ad could go smoothly or poorly. Effective billboard advertising requires consulting with experts who can advise you based upon actual data about what consumer like. Experts will be able to direct a billboard advertising campaign with knowledge of consumer taste, cultural and political sensibilities, and failed ideas from the past which you can learn from. The key to good billboard advertising is having the capacity to set aside your personal views and focus on what is proven to be effective.
A few years ago, animal rights advocacy group PETA created controversy after launching a billboard advertising campaign with billboard ads featuring obese people on the beach with a slogan that read: “Save the whales. Go Vegan!”. The fallout from this ad endeavor left PETA on the list of seriously bad billboard ideas, as it greatly offended the general public. The problem was that PETA made the crucial mistake of letting their vision of what their billboard advertising should look like get in the way of focusing on what people will respond positively to. It doesn’t matter what you think is a good idea; what matters is how your target market responds to the message. In this case, PETA was so avid about criticizing the consumption of animals, that they didn’t notice how offensive their message was to people. PETA portrayed themselves as cruel and insensitive, and the billboard advertising campaign was a failure because it encouraged a far different image for PETA than what they wanted.