Fresh & Funky 2: Ads on the Street

Fresh & Funky 2: Ads on the Street

Welcome back to Fresh & Funky, your source for snark, insights and snarky insights about advertising.

The focus of today’s post:  Outdoor advertising.  Take a short drive down any street or highway and you’ll see that this channel is an endless source of funk, from signs crammed with mouse-type to the occasional random billboard that’s printed upside-down (?!).

When it’s done well, great outdoor advertising is a refreshing change, and it can be a very effective way to reach a mass audience.  But when it’s done poorly, it’s confusing at best—and very often, it’s much worse.

Here’s a look at one example of the fresh—and a very special example of the funky—in outdoor ads.



The Fresh:  File this one under “Wish I’d written it.”

This billboard is fresh like a farmer’s market.

The brilliantly brief headline takes a familiar and powerful phrase and transforms it, via anagram, into a concept that perfectly reflects the mindset of the target audience.

The approach subtly strokes the intellectual ego (A Latin pun! I get it!) while reinforcing that voice in all our heads that counsels prudent savings and investment.

This concept nags the reader to plan for the future, but it does so with a wink and a smile, so it makes financial planning seem almost fun.

There’s not much left for the typography to do besides get out of the way.  Which it does brilliantly—a big bold headline offset on a nicely contrasting blue field, and a subhead that’s easily legible at 80 miles an hour.  Not that I would know anything about that.

But the best thing about this billboard is that it achieves greatness with just two words.

I officially have headline envy.  Nicely done.



The Funky:  Turns out, there actually are some stupid questions.

Here’s one now:  “businesses with signs throwing you around?”

Come again?

So, I really have no good explanation for this bus stop ad.  I spied it as I drove past, and it was so baffling that I actually drove around the block to get a second look.  I was hoping that I had misread it, because it made my brain hurt.  But it turned out that I had read it right—and that just made it even more confusing.

I don’t know whether this sign is promoting a product or a service.  I cannot tell what audience it’s intended to reach.   And I have no idea what it’s actually trying to say.

I mean:  What if businesses with signs actually are throwing me around?  What exactly am I supposed to do about it?

And what to make of that image?  Sure, it catches your eye, but then you just feel sorry for the little guy hanging there by his scruff.  It’s so strange and off-putting, the viewer is likely to miss the incoherent headline altogether.

This sign is a total and complete mystery.  As far as I can see, it serves no purpose whatsoever.

Perhaps it’s art.

Perhaps it’s a misprint.

Whatever it is, it’s definitely funky.

So — are businesses with signs throwing you around?  If so, or if you’ve seen some other piece of funky (or fresh!) outdoor advertising, shoot us an email at and let us know.

I'm an old dog who's always learning new tricks.