Last Christmas I reported on what a so called ‘progressive’ church in New Zealand were doing promoting their version of Christmas on a billboard. This Christmas American Atheists have had a go at attacking Christmas on a billboard causing the Catholic League to respond.
The American Atheists spent $20,000 on a billboard at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey with the headline “You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason.”
In an exchange of artillery fire the Catholic League responded with a retort to the atheists and put up their own billboard on the New York side at the exit from Lincoln tunnel “You know it’s real. This season, celebrate Jesus.”
The question I have for both billboards is, do they work as a creative execution? Will either convince someone to change their opinion or are they simply both preaching to the ‘converted’?
In my previous career out there in the creative industry, Australian advertising guru David Mattingly gave me some tips on successful billboard creative executions.
- No more than eight words in the headline. Any more and the driver won’t have time to read it. The Catholic League billboard has eight, the American Atheists nine (The by-lines at the bottom of both billboards get lost for me).
- You need to be able to read the headline in three seconds from your car. The Catholic billboard type is legible and clear, but I can only read the first four words of the atheists billboard and the font the atheists have used is hard to read.
- Have a ‘hero’ picture that stands out. Both do that, although there are nothing original or new from a creative point of view. Both take a traditional approach to the nativity scene.
- Make them think or laugh. To help recall and with cut through say something which will give the viewer something to think about. Neither of them do that for me. They are speaking largely to their existing audiences who would agree with them.
- Give the audience an simple next step. If the billboard has no next step such as a telephone no. or a website then it will be a passing thought and more easily forgotten in the tsunami of advertising messages we all receive every day. The Atheist billboard at least as a web address, but the catholic league has no next step.
David says, “If you want to be noticed you must create a disturbance. Only the unusual gets seen, understood, remembered and talked about because the usual, no matter how tarted-up or elegantly contrived, is easily ignored, passed by, little noted and soon forgotten.”
What do you think? From a creative point of view, do they work or not? What would you do?