Advertising That Works! Billboard Edition

McDonalds Oclock Ad

That’s right, folks! It’s McDonalds-o-clock! There’s a lot to love about Mickey D’s billboard. First off, it’s a working sundial. That’s pretty darn impressive, if you ask us! Second of all, it features images of all the delicious food that makes up America’s favorite fast food breakfast! And thirdly, we love that the images speak for themselves. The marketing geniuses at McDonalds know that the majority of people are familiar with their brand, so instead of using this billboard to share information with consumers (i.e. this is who we are, this is what we do) they simply use it to remind us that it’s (literally) time for a visit. The ad is a tad outdated of course (as we all know, McDonalds serves breakfast all day now!) but it also served to remind us the hours that breakfast was sold—so it was useful and unique!

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

We love this billboard for its simplicity and cleverness. Everyone knows what duct tape is and what it’s good for (pretty much everything), so what this ad does is suggest that 3M brand tape is better and stronger than many off-brand tapes (this, in my experience, is actually true). The ad is clean and simple, but also kind of fun—after all, that’s a giant roll of duct tape holding that sign in place!

image courtesy of
image courtesy of

Last but not least is this fantastic ad for Capisco hot sauce! While this Indian hot sauce brand is not as widely recognizable as McDonalds or 3M, the designers are still able to send a pithy message with nothing but an image. The bottle shape, color, and label make it clear that this is a hot sauce, and the hole that appears to be burned into the billboard (you can see right through it! We love the commitment here!) makes it clear that this is a HOT sauce. It’s clever, it’s clear—it’s all we could ever want in a billboard!

What are some of your favorite billboards? Send us recommendations in the comments, or on Pinterest or Twitter!

Billboard Basics

Want to advertise on a billboard? Outdoor billboards can be cost effective way of advertising in a city like Houston, Texas. We spend an enormous amount of time in our car and possibly pass hundreds of billboards every week.  Outdoor advertising has a lower cost per thousand than other types of advertising. Some say 80% less than television commercials, 60% less than newspaper ads and 50% less than radio ads. Before you make a decision, we would like to give you some basic information to help your billboard be more effective.

Keep it simple. Many advertisers want to cram a lot of stuff on their billboards because they have a large space to fill (many are 14 ft. x 48 ft.). But the truth is viewers only have a few seconds when driving by. Try to get noticed with a simple, small message. Using billboards should be a secondary medium, not a primary one. This means your advertising campaign should not just consist of a billboard.

7 Words or less. Because viewing time is so short, your message must be kept short. The industry tells us that viewers have less than six seconds to view. Short headlines work best.

Don’t Say it, Show it. Get creative with your ideas. Colors and photos can go a long way. Have you noticed the cows on the Chick-Fil-A billboards, they are not flat, they are actual sculptures of cows.

Quantity and placement. One billboard is not very effective especially if it’s placed in a bad location. Every billboard has a GRP (Gross Ratings Points) between 1 and 100. These ratings give you a score based on traffic, visibility, size and location. If the board is a 50, it means 50% of the population in that area would view it at least once a day. The best idea is to place several billboards in really great locations. Most sales contracts are to keep a billboard up for one month.

Here is an example of a billboard that we did for the Fall Home & Garden Show in The Woodlands: