Recently, I was driving home from work during the rush hour when I came to a stop at one of the busiest intersections in my hometown and looked up to be met by this billboard staring back at me.
To the average person, it looks like any other billboard that they’re constantly bombarded with on a daily basis. Research has shown that 71% of Americans consciously look at billboards while driving but while Americans may be deliberately looking at billboards while on the road, my question is “Do they understand what they are looking at?”
Let’s take the billboard I pictured above and break it down to better explain what I mean:
At first glance, you see a beer advertisement. This is well established by the gigantic can of Coors Light sitting in the middle. On the left side it reads “We’re proud of our ingredients” and on the right side it reads “And the farmers who grow them”. And all of this is framed by a nice view of a crop field with the mountains in the distance.
You may be thinking “Well, that’s a nice ad. It promotes beer (we like beer) and it’s thanking our honest hard working farmers for all that they do”. Well you’re right….. That is the message. BUT what you are missing is what lays underneath.
The next part that we are going to talk about I want you to think of like the coding that lays underneath a web page or app. We’re about to jump into the coding of advertisements but for the sake of our sanity we’re only gonna peddle in the shallow end.
To start, let’s examine the town that this billboard is located in:
Fresno, CA is the fifth largest populated city in California. It’s famous for primarily two things:
- Being featured in every documentary about street gangs
- And two, for farming
Fresno county has over 1.88 million acres of the world’s most productive farmland which raise of 350 different crops. I feel it’s safe to say that farming is a pretty big deal in this city and the residents who live here take pride in their farming heritage and main source of income.
Two: Bud Light launched a campaign saying that Coors & Miller use corn syrup in their beer
In rebuttal, MillerCoors launched a campaign called #ToastToFarmers
The campaign launched February of this year and has gained a lot of traction because what Bud Light didn’t tell folks is that “corn syrup” and “high fructose corn syrup” are two different things. And MillerCoors twisted this little fact and said Bud Light was in fact attacking our hard working farmers, the chairman, Pete Coors had this to say:
“ABI didn’t just attack our flagship brands, they attacked hard working American farmers who grow our great ingredients”
Pretty good rebuttal by MillerCoors…. They’re attempting to get farmers involved in the marketing war between them and Bud Light. And it worked:
Third: The view
I grew up in Fresno all my life and I can tell you right now with full confidence that that is not the view of the Sierra Nevada from Fresno that is depicted on that billboard. For maybe 30 days spread out over the 365 days we have in a year, would we have the pollution clear up enough to even get close to a view as beautiful as that. Also the mountains just don’t look right…. They’re definitely not as arrowhead shaped from our point of view down on the valley floor. End of the day it’s a pretty view (daydream) of what us in Fresno like to believe it looks like or tell our friends from the east coast it looks like.
So, let’s now pretend that we’re MillerCoors and we take these three facts above and shove them into a blender with a dash of photoshop. What do we get?
We got an advertisement that was created in response to a feud between two of the biggest beer companies in America whose goal was to drive larger sales than their competitor by placing these ads into a target market (Fresno) and playing off those residents emotions of pride in their work and city.
It’s a brilliant advertisement…..
I personally don’t give a lot of credit to the big companies and their ads cause I usually find them so shallow or dry. Maybe it’s cause I’ve been working in marketing for so long that I see through all their bullshit, I don’t know. But I have to hand it to MillerCoors on this one. It hit home for me, quite literally.
For those reading this article though, please don’t just look at advertisements…..
Try to understand them. Understand what it is they are trying to sell you on. What is the message that is behind those beautiful advertisements that we see everyday on our commute home from work?
I think once you begin observing the advertisements and not just “looking”….. I think you’ll find another world has opened up to you.
Now if you’ll excuse me…. I’m gonna drink some Coors Light and enjoy the rest of my weekend.
P.S. Did you observe any of the advertisements displayed while scrolling through this article? Didn’t think so……