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1971— Real-Estate Agents “will the last person”

Risk Using Poster Panel to Influence Community

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“Will the last person leaving Seattle …” billboard, April 1971 Courtesy The Seattle Times

This Outdoor Advertising poster panel was a daring statement at the time.  Its 1971 and Seattle major employer, Boeing has terminated thousands of its work force.  The slogan seems tame by today’s standards. At the time, a number of people took risks and placed a design on the street which while it didnt win any awards, is still talked about and used today.  What risk have you ventured lately?  What is your risk tolerance in displaying “controversial subject matter” via OOH?

What is your risk tolerance in displaying “controversial subject matter” in OOH?

A pair of Seattle-based real-estate agents used a strategically placed poster panel to change the community perceptions. The billboard location targeted home buyers near the airport.

The biggest billboard company was Foster & Kleiser, then Clear Channel Outdoor, which promptly turned down a sign it perceived as negative.

Then they called a little startup billboard company, Pacific Communications. For $160 a month, Pacific rented the billboard space on the east side of Pacific High South, at South 167th Street, appropriately enough, across the street from a cemetery.  Reaction to the billboard was immediate. Pressure to remove however was overwhelming for the smaller OOH company.  It stayed on the street only two weeks, Pacific cancelled and returned a check for $80.   

real-estate agents Bob McDonald and Jim Youngren

From the archives of History Link:

Billboard reading “Will the Last Person Leaving SEATTLE — Turn Out the Lights” appears near Sea-Tac International Airport on April 16, 1971.

  • By Greg Lange
    History Link.org Essay 1287
On April 16, 1971, real-estate agents Bob McDonald and Jim Youngren put the words, “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE — Turn out the lights” on a billboard at S 167th Street and Pacific Highway S near Sea-Tac International Airport. The two realtors, who work for Henry Broderick, Inc., put up the billboard as a humorous response to pessimism generated by the national aerospace industry’s nosedive, known locally as the Boeing Bust. 
A Sign of the TimesThe recession came as The Boeing Company, the region’s largest employer, went from a peak of 100,800 employees in 1967 to a low of 38,690 in April 1971. McDonald said their out-of-town clients “were amazed that Seattle wasn’t a ghost town with weeds growing in the streets. We wanted to counteract that attitude with a little humor” (Duncan). The men rented the billboard for $160.The Boeing recovery began slowly: By October 1971 the firm employed 53,300 workers.

History Link full story⇒ Turn Out the Lights

Second story on ‘turn off the lights…promotion Lights Out

What is your risk tolerance in displaying “controversial subject matter” via OOH?



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