Friday, May 7, 2010

Maybe Put a Little More Thought into Your Billboards ...

Over the past few years I've seen some pointless billboards lining the Las Vegas highways. But these billboards aren't conventionally pointless, they take a bit of thought to realize that they're pointless, which I guess is the fun for me. Here's an example:

During Your Next Heart Attack, Think Southern Hills

The first billboard that struck me as a little odd was a billboard for heart surgery. I don't remember exactly what it said or which hospital it was advertising (so obviously it was an effective billboard, huh?), but the gist of it was, "Fast heart surgery! Come to Southern Hills!" My first thought was, What is that billboard's target demographic?

 I mean, think about it. I imagine a guy driving home from work and then suddenly getting one of those pesky little heart attacks. He thinks to himself, "Man, this heart attack sure is an inconvenience. I wish there were a hospital that ... oh! Awesome! Thanks, Mr. Billboard!"

I also don't really see heart surgery as much of a comparison shopping kind of field. I'm probably showing my ignorance here, I suppose, because I've never needed the surgery, but if you need heart surgery, do you really sit down and list all of the places you go and write down the pros and cons of each? "Well, Sunny Hills has great customer service, but that snazzy billboard says that Southern Hills is lickity split quick. Oh my, but Sandy Hills got a 5/5 on Urban Scalpel."

But then, I suppose heart surgery is expensive, so even a single person both miraculously remembering the billboard and being swayed by its persuasive powers is enough to justify the billboard from a financial perspective. So, I guess I can't give them too much crap.

On to the next one ...

But How Long is the Wait ... ?

I passed by this next one for a long while before it struck me that it's kinda sorta really dumb. The billboard showed a cell phone and was telling people, "Text ER to 4522 to get ER wait times!" (I guess I have a thing against medical billboards ...) This is another one of those Who-is-your-target-demographic? conundrums.

An emergency room is an emergency room for a reason. You don't have people sitting at home thinking, "Man, this mild cough just won't go away. I should head to the emergency room. Lemme get out my phone and see which one's got the shortest wait."

The demographic they're (apparently) gunning for is more along these lines: "Man, these multiple bullet wounds to the chest sure do itch. [Takes out cell phone with lone functional arm and texts ER to 4522.] Whew! Virgin Hills has one hour less of a wait than Promiscuous Hills. Thanks random ER wait-times phone number that I somehow remembered in this emergency situation!"

Ohhhh, THAT God

The final billboard that comes to mind is a simple one. Three big letters sprawl across the entirety of the billboard: GOD. No, don't worry, this isn't an anti-religious rant. What I don't get about this billboard is the same thing I don't get about the other two ... the target demographic.

So, who is the target demographic here? Non-believers? Believers of deities other than God? People who have mistakenly been worshiping Judas all of this time? ("Fuck, GOD, not Judas. Duh. I'll remember this time.") I can't see non-believers or worshipers of other religions seeing that and thinking, "Hmm ... touche, Christians. I concede my god and upgrade to your God. Capital Gs are a lot more fun, anyway." Or, on the atheist side: "Ahhhh ... that was the evidence I've been looking for all along. Right smack in front of me this whole time."

Or maybe they're just trying to strengthen belief among those who already believe? "Man, I've been having a super shitty day. There's obviously no God. Oh, wait, yes there is. Thanks, billboard. Glad I took this route home today, instead of the route with the ZEUS billboard ..."

So, to me this simply seems to scream of people patting themselves on the back. "I put up a GOD billboard today. I guess I did my Christian duty in trying to convert people. Move over Mother Teresa."

Anyone else seen any particularly dumb billboards?

-- SPG

(Note: Yes, yes, yes, I realize there are some flaws in my arguments against the billboards above, but pointing those out wouldn't have been nearly as funny, would it? Assholes.)

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