According to Drew McLellan, there exist only a few rules for outdoor advertising—for instance, use provocative visuals and less than seven words. But in a blog post, he recalls a 1989 campaign devised by Crowley Webb for Garcia's Irish Pub in Buffalo, New York, that ignored this conventional wisdom. "[This] most brilliant outdoor campaign broke every one of these rules," he says. "Every single one."
Each week for nine weeks in a row, a new billboard would appear in the same location, with a simple "missed connection" message. The first three sported white typeface on a red background, and sounded like your typical lovestruck guy:
- Angel in Red: Saw you at Garcia's Irish Pub. Love to meet you. —William
- Angel in Red: Still waiting. Garcia's Pub, Friday? —William
- Angel in Red: I'm going broke with these billboards. Garcia's … please! —William
On week four William gets a reply (red letters on a white background):
- Hey Willie, I'm no Angel but I do wear red. Garcia's Saturday. —Candi
Then it's back to a red background for William's follow-up:
- Angel in Red: Candi was tempting but she wasn't you. Friday, Garcia's Pub? —William
There are a few more twists and turns before William finally gets the girl.
"Notice the boards didn't push the daily soup special or promise us the same cliches that all restaurants promise," says McLellan. "Instead, they invited us into a story. A story where we could play a part." And that's timeless Marketing Inspiration.
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