From A To B, Healthy & Free Billboard on I-95

Remember the pro-cycling billboards along I-95 mentioned here early last month? Well it turns out the first billboard went up yesterday, unfortunately for cyclists it's not very visable due to it's awkward southwest angle and distance from the interstate highway.

Here's a photo of it taken while northbound on I-95.



The advertisement is most visible when heading east on the residential SW 3rd Street towards 4th Avenue. The billboard overlooks Jose Marti Park in Little Havana.




Here's the actual design.



I can't say I'm a fan of the billboard, even though something is usually better than nothing when it comes to bicycle advocacy. The slogan works, however the design was not well thought out for billboard use. Some very easy changes such as going with a simpler font and making the "Ride Your Bike" text much much larger would have gone a long way. I also think the City Of Miami seal & SFBC logo overpower and distract from the design. Add those minor issues to the fact that the billboard is not very visible to begin with and it's not hard to comprehend why I'm dissatisfied with the end result.

Here's a quick edit of the original design. It's no work of art but much more legible than the original and took me 2 minutes.



One thing which should be taken into account is how the pro-cycling campaign was originally slated to be placed on digital billboards. Digital billboards place a few restrictions on the designers, mostly with the use of the color white. In the end the city went with standard billboards and it's possible the designer could have made slight changes since the digital requirements no longer applied.

I'll end this with a quote from Clear Channel Outdoor’s recommended guidelines for designing a billboard.

"Creating a billboard is mainly about making it read. Even the best design is worthless if it is not legible from a distance. It is only after legibility has been mastered that creativity can follow."

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3 comments

  1. I'm the designer of the billboard. As a (formerly) frequent commuter on I-95, I do pay attention to billboards I see as I'm barreling down the highway, and one particular one caught my attention - the Johnnie Walker ads. If anyone is familiar with those ads, it's easy to see where I got my inspiration from. Anyway, this billboard was designed to be seen directly by I-95 drivers, where even some relatively small text can be easily read. The "ride your bike" part of my design is actually the same size (or maybe even bigger) than the smallest text found on Johnnie Walker ads (which I can always read easily), and if this was placed on a billboard facing the northbound drivers on their side, the size of that text would not have been a problem, digital or not. However I do agree with your comments on font - I made some more of these for another organization, and I started using another font that is definitely way more visible than the one on this billboard.

    The seals disappointed me as well. I felt that they disrupted the minimalistic theme of the billboard. I initially made them small, and fit them in one corner, but I was informed that they had to be bigger, so I had to conform.

    As for this billboard being digital, I was designing the entire time with this in mind, but maybe a week or two after I submitted the final design, I was informed that it would be a static billboard first, and it was too late to change anything.

    I'll have to admit it - your comments surprised me. Besides the request to change my original slogan, which was "from a to b, guilt-free", I haven't received any criticism until now. But I'm glad that most of my reflections are in agreement with yours.

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  2. Hey Brandt, glad you checked in.

    Your design did remind me of the Johnnie Walker campaign. However, in the JW ads "Johnnie Walker" was in small text, being an established brand name allows them to be more subtle in the design. The black & yellow alone already brings them to mind without reading text, they are trying to be classy with small text. We need to be assertive in our campaign.

    I think we should go big whether it's right on I-95 or a longer distance away. We are not marketing a brand so it's gotta make a lasting first impression.. if it's a slogan it needs to garner motorists attention at high speeds.

    Let's build from the errors in this one.. we'll see if another goes up. If one does hopefully it's in an ideal location and you get to edit the font/design a bit to reflect the concerns of some.

    Thanks

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  3. Thanks to both of you. This ad campaign has been a weird experience for us with the giant logo in the corner. It came about about a year ago; I hated the digital billboards and looked into how they could be legal. In my searching, with the dedicated help of Collin Worth from the City of Miami, it was found that part of the deal with the devil, so to speak, was to get public service announcement space. Hence the call for submissions.
    I didn't really think the South Florida Bike Coalition logo would make it onto the billboards at all, especially since I thought that there needed to be room for miamigov.com/bikes.
    So we got permission from Commissioner Sarnoff to submit our (bicycle) message and lobbied for designs ideas, and then the Bike Coalition had no part in the design or decision- but we loved Brandt's, in particular for t-shirts.
    We really hope that this (awkward) success story will mean more submissions and ideas from across South Florida. I really do believe it's a success and it gives us leverage to get pro-bicycling ad messages like this up in Broward and Palm Beach, too, as well as other Miami-Dade cities.

    Rydel: Thank you for helping us continue to get submissions.

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