The way some billboards have been executed have been the bane of my existence.

Years ago, I commuted to my advertising job in Bala Cynwyd, PA (just outside of Philadelphia) from Newark, Delaware, where the litany of forgettable billboards littered the side of the highway. My nightmares of this working odyssey continue today.

I’ll never understand why anyone would place a phone number on a billboard. Think about that for a minute. Who has the time, in a car, to jot a number down or remember it? Not me, and I’ll assume you don’t either.

How about those billboards with sentences of copy. It’s just asking for a roadway disaster? Nobody has the time to ingest an epistle while driving.

However, there are a handful of billboards that really work. Chick-Fil-A billboards always make me laugh. They are simple and memorable. McDonald’s typically has its ducks in a row when it comes to this form of media. And, most of the time, VisitNC ( leaves a positive impression on me.

That is, until its recent campaign.

A billboard from VisitNC shows a common problem.

Take a look at the following billboard for VisitNC:


What are you going to do? Log onto VisitNC while driving?

Know this, VisitNC has made some of the finest advertising in its past. Like this print ad:


This is a nice VisitNC ad. For an ad.

Isn’t this beautiful? It’s simple minded and elegant. It makes North Carolina a place I am proud to live (although not its HB2 bill) and a state I want to explore.

This is why I am so critical of the VisitNC billboard. It’s not the same calibre of work. The art direction breaks a critical rule: seeing and saying. The assumption is that viewers of this ad won’t understand the idea that VisitNC is a site you can frequent to help you embrace the state of North Carolina and, in turn, remove yourself from that very technology used in the process of discovery as you “get lost” the state. Whew, kind of a convoluted singe minded proposition, huh? Instead, the art director has plastered a ridiculous iPad in the middle of the advertisement as to clue us into this mindset. This uglies an already stock looking ad, and forcefully beats a meandering idea in our heads.

Which brings me back to the wonderfully simple print ad. It’s about the destination. Not the process. While the billboard is all about the a process.

To truly understand your target audience you need to know what motivates them and why they are motivated to begin with. The motivation of those using is in having vested interest in exploring the state of North Carolina. That is all. It is not about the website that gives you ideas of what to do.

Share This