As it happens, that particular billboard has now been replaced by the “asthmatic fish,” which while useless at telling us anything we didn’t know about asthma, at least doesn’t make us look like victims of dysfunction in need of counseling. On that score, other recent billboards have urged us to personally not engage in gun violence (“when you do a gun crime, your whole family serves time with you” or some such), to talk with our 8-year-old (or thereabouts) child about drinking alcohol, not to scream at or beat our spouse in the presence of our pre-school daughter, and to contact Joe Kennedy 4 cheap Oil (not sure if this last one is a freebie).
As I understand it, advertisers give space (or TV time) to the Ad Council when they couldn’t otherwise sell the space to a paying client. So, as would probably be apparent to many people, an Ad Council ad is always evidence of a moribund commercial market. Making the ads so pathos-invoking is just icing on the cake, so that everyone who is moving to (or opening a business in) the area, will feel like slitting his wrists.
The few commercial billboard ads don’t do too much to counter this notion. Apart from area banks and a couple restaurants, we see mostly ads for liquor (what the hell does “New Green in the Hizzy” mean in conjunction with Teapartay, anyway?), and in the summer for cultural festivals as far afield as
Obviously the owners of the billboards are getting little or no rent from them, but they at least are expressing some hope for the future, in that they are paying to keep them up at a loss, rather than tearing them down or seeking to donate them. Still, the billboards can’t be worth much to them. Perhaps some of the people spending money and time designing ways of improving the local image can buy up the billboards, to use or even tear down, or at least rent them to advertise local events, such as art exhibits at MOCA and the Clark (they did a few last summer), or to promote MCLA or such events as the Adams Fair.
I can’t complain that such moneys aren’t being spent, since I’m not exactly ready to step up to the plate, but in the absence of such sums, couldn’t the owners of the billboards at least donate their space to local events and nonprofits, rather than making them icons of desperation?