On the West Side Highway in Manhattan, there is currently a billboard for placebo supplements. There is a QR code for more information in the corner.
Unless the person in the passenger seat has a telephoto lens on their phone, there’s no way in the world it’s going to work.
My late friend Jay Levinson said that the most effective billboard would say, “Free coffee, next exit.” A call to action, relevant to the audience, easy to see and understand.
Actual billboards are an entire category of media, but now we’re surrounded by a new kind, one smaller, more unobtrusive and common: social media posts. You can see thousands of them in a day.
Social media started as text updates from one person to another, but thanks to photo sharing, some posts have become something else entirely. An opportunity to create consistent, effective and clear reminders of who you are and what you stand for.
But with Jay’s mandate in mind, they work as well when they’re about the audience as they are about you. They work better when they can see and understand from a distance. And they work better when they “sound like you.”
Here are examples of dozens of digital billboards my fellow volunteers have created for the Almanac. These blew me away. Really free coffee.