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Making Media Move For Idlers

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Everyone wants to create an ad that stops traffic, but how do you move motorists who are at a standstill?
That's the idea behind a low-tech, high-concept form of nontraditional selling from Underground Advertising. The Stevensville, Md., shop has taken a handful of variable message signs--those solar- or gasoline-powered lighted displays seen on highways alerting motorists of lane closings or traffic jams--and transformed their alternating phrases to another use along heavily traveled roads.
An ad for ToadNet's Internet service begins by enticing the gridlocked with "Want to go fast?" before finishing with "Call 877-GET-TOAD for Toad DSL." Another (see photo below) implores frustrated commuters to "Tune radio to 103.1 FM . . . and crank it."
A third, for Harley-Davidson, states, "Don't go off road . . . if you own the road."
"Everyone gets stuck in traffic, and everyone looks at those signs," said Eric Hartsock, Underground's creative director. "A road sign can be one of the most effective forms of advertising.
"Advertising isn't just about buying media; it's about creating it."
--T.W. Siebert