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May 29, 2006

11 things I learned about advertising while driving to the lake.

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to totally escape advertising this weekend. Turns out Midwestern highways are much better than finishing schools to learn about the real ins-and-outs of the business.

1. On billboards, small town car dealers generally wear tuxedos and point at you or in the direction of their dealership. They really are very pointy people.

2. The less popular the restaurant chain, the more specific driving directions they tend put on their billboards. See, if the food isn't great, the directions need to be. Or so it seems.

3. Both churches and Adult-oriented merchants believe strongly in the power of outdoor advertising. Outdoor companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

4. Most professional copywriters still use too many words in outdoor (myself included). One exception (from Keystone Light) that made me smile: "Without beer, camping is just sleeping outside." Cheers to you, anonymous copywriter.

5. Some guy named Jesse Yokam will drill wells for you. Hey, if I need a well drilled, he's the only brand I know.

6. There really are lots and lots of McDonald's in the world.

7. It would take a good art director weeks to unsuccessfully duplicate the homemade appeal of the signs selling vegetables at roadside stands.

8. Ratty signage and a full parking lot is a good indication that you've found a decent local restaurant.

9. If one believes a man has cheated you in a business dealing, advertising can be a good weapon for revenge. This was evidenced by a huge homemade sign erected by the side of the road. It named the so-called cheat. Following good advertising practice, the sign had a telephone number to call for more information. I was a single digit from making that call when my wife insisted I hang up the phone.

10. Either the executives at DQ are nice people or they're just tired of suing every small-town soft-serve joint that infringes on them out of existence. Observed on the trip: Dairy King, Dairy Creme, Dairy Crest, Dairy Royale (and not with cheese).

11. My wife cannot pass an outlet of the Kum & Go chain of convenience stores without a small giggle. As far as I'm concerned, that's great marketing.


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I have to admit that one billboard I saw this weekend made me cry. That is, cry tears of hysterical laughter. Driving on Hwy 63 AND on I-70, I saw a shameless board inviting travelers to the 'Testicle Festival' next weekend!! No lie. Almost too awesome for real life. Almost.

If you think passing a Kum & Go elicits a giggle, try telling people you work on the account (as I did for several years). You wouldn't believe how many times I returned home from a night at the bar with a pocketful of tiny paper scraps - each scrawled with a single name and the same comment: "get t-shirt for ..."

I saw this post referenced on The Consumerist today. Seems your little corner of the blogosphere is getting some more attention-congrats!

If you ever visit the Twin Cities area, make sure to stop by the Pump & Munch. They will give you free P&M pens if you ask nicely.

Nice line for Keystone Light. But do people really drink light beer when they're camping?

You wouldn't have had as much fun here in Vermont. We don't allow billboards~ epiphanies have to come from other things, like cows.

My Mom was integral to the naming of Kum & Go - needless to say, drinking was involved.....

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