On Interstate Route 95, the well-traveled artery that delivers motorists down through the east coast and into Florida, the observant student of marketing will find many successful applications of outdoor advertising.
South of the Border
Anyone who has ever traveled this road, in either direction, will recollect the roadside signs promoting an attraction in South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border, called, aptly enough, South Of The Border. For a hundred miles both north and south of the place, Interstate 95 is crowded with painted boards singing the glories of South Of The Border, a rambling roadside enclave selling food, fireworks, clothing, motel rooms, orange juice and more. Each of the signs features dazzling Day-Glo colors against a flat black background, and a prominent sombrero logo. You can spot a South Of The Border sign a mile away, and of course that’s the point. Colors, typography, logo and the tone of the copy are unfailingly consistent. Sign after sign, the impact becomes cumulative. This isn’t simply a series of signs. It’s a well-coordinated campaign.
Yet it isn’t only consistency that makes it a campaign. The other essential that SOTB provides is what the advertising pros call frequency. That is, it delivers the message, or variations of it, not just a few times, but over and over again. The closer you get to the place, the more displays there are. There are places on I-95 where you can actually see five South Of The Border signs at once. With this kind of highly focused advertising barrage, even the most disinterested motorist can’t possibly ignore SOTB. Judging from the busy parking lot, easily visible from the road when you finally get there, the place lures enough customers through its gates to make the investment in outdoor advertising pay off nicely.
There are other knowledgeable advertisers who hammer travelers with multiple billboards, but nobody on I-95 does it on a scale quite as grand as SOTB.
You gotta have frequency
Frequency is what makes advertising work. Hitting us with an ad again and again can’t help but make an impact, even if the creative content is only so-so. (Many major package goods and automobile marketers sell their wares by relying on sheer media tonnage, while using the most pedestrian, me-too creative.) When heavy frequency is paired with compelling, well-positioned creative, marketing results can be spectacular. But without frequency, even brilliant content has a hard time getting noticed. The truth is, we don’t generally pay attention until we’ve experienced an ad several times.
This isn’t just about billboards that promote a roadside attraction. That’s almost too obvious, too easy. Frequency counts heavily on radio and television, in print, everywhere, for all kinds of advertised products. The big marketers know it, and every small business advertiser should, too.