Can an 83-Word Billboard Work?

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Click image to enlarge. (Daniel Bowen/Flickr)

Conventional advertising wisdom says to keep words to a minimum on a billboard – or in any form of advertising, for that matter. In an age of 140-character attention spans, messages should be super short and lightening quick. At least that’s what the experts often say.

So, the above billboard (technically a giant poster) with eight lines of copy and 83 words is definitely zagging when others are zigging. It’s located in the main concourse of Flinders Street Station in Melbourne.

Is it smart or misguided?

Some rules of thumb for billboards are to have few words – five, six, eight or so tops – and to be visually driven. Typically, the idea is to make a strong impression and build awareness.

Of course, this advert is a bit different in that it’s located in a station where people are walking (not driving) by. It’s quite large, too, and definitely readable. It also tells a little story and has a call to action, unusual for billboards.

One last thing. The message has that anti-advertising vibe so popular in recent years, beginning, “Hmm. The ad agency told us this was a good place to put a poster. I’m not so sure …”

It’s been done a lot, and I think people are hip to the make-fun-of-advertising approach. We all know an ad agency came up with the concept and creative (including copy), don’t we?

Is the giant poster effective?

I’m guessing it did a fairly good job.

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1 thought on “Can an 83-Word Billboard Work?”

  1. Wellllllllll….. interesting. I am sure it got SOME attention, but wow! My guess is that it became more of an annoyance as people boweled over the person in front of them who hadn’t seen it yet as they screeched to a halt in the busy concourse to read it.

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