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Lamar —WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

20 1,715

 

Photo By:Bee Ess

 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

This second half of this story is where the $64,000 question lies

 

Here is the story—

A Black Lives Matter message was recently installed on a Lamar billboard next to a Confederate flag for traffic traveling into the small North Carolina town of Pittsboro, located 35 miles outside of Raleigh. According to an Associated Press report by HALELUYA HADERO (via Sinclair Broadcast Group’s local TV station 13, ABC affiliate WLOS)

The billboard was paid for via GoFundMe, by a group of community organizers Recidivism Reduction Educational Program Services (RREPS) and Emancipate NC for the space, as it succeeded in raising what was claimed the required $10,000 to cover the costs of the billboard. According to local FOX News 8, the group believes that the sign will be up for one year. Spokesperson Kerwin Pittman, who is a coordinator with Emancipate North Carolina, is quoted saying, “It only made sense to put a Black Lives Matter billboard right in front of this land.”

 

 

The Second Half
Here is where the $64,000 question lies —

According to the AP story, Sam White, the property owner where both flag pole and billboard are located, said he spoke to Lamar prior to the install of the billboard, and he claims to have made it clear to the Lamar representative,  “They wanted to know how I would react to it, and I told them I would not want a Black Lives Matter sign on that billboard,” he said. “And if they did, there would be repercussions.”

White continued saying company representatives told him they would notify him before putting it up, but went ahead and did it anyway without telling him in advance. 

One of our OOH colleagues who read the story shared, “This took some stones and wonder how far up the chain of command this went in Lamar.”  Indeed we wonder as well. 

Another OOH owner in empathy to Lamar suggested the following:

“The only way it makes sense is:

  • It was a bad lease and they wanted to dump it anyway?
  • They didn’t actually ask?
  • They were going to lose the lease anyway?
  • Lastly, they wanted to make a public statement?”

Land owner Sam White, is quoted as he wants the sign removed when Lamar’s lease expires at the end of August. We understand competitive OOH companies will be speaking with Mr. White very soon.

Is there a billboard owner out there who would make the same decision based on what has been reported above? 

Would you go ahead and install the message in the face of the land owner telling you not to do so, knowing full well you may lose the lease and billboard?

If you believe the number 1 rule in OOH is to protect the inventory, did Lamar do the right thing?

Does Lamar’s moral stand outweigh the consequences of losing one billboard?

Scroll to the bottom to ‘leave a reply’ and tell us your thoughts. Want to stay anonymous?  Don’t leave your real name or email address, but keep it professional or we may not approve the message. 

A photo of the billboard and story from the AP writer can be found here⇒Black Lives Matter Billboard Next to Confederate Flag

 

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20 Comments
  1. John doe says

    WTH?!? All you do is pronounce that ooh companies need to make a stand, make a statement be change leaders especially the big 3. One does, makes the ultimate sacrifice it’s inventory and you question the move instead of praising it??? Come on where do you really stand? Easy to print on a very limited publication, but put it up outdoor for all to see and ultimately at the cost of your inventory! Do you believe that much?? Lamar does!!

  2. Grey vick says

    Interesting. They had to have already wanted to take the billboard down or knew they were going to lose the lease anyway. It’s a non conforming sign so they know if they remove it, no one else can put it back up. Your story is pretty spot on that they just would rather take the stance anyway. Makes more sense to just find another place for it if your
    landowner doesn’t want it. Why make people angry over taking a stance. We posted a black lives matter billboard but my landowner approved it. Hope they can work it out and no one gets angry and does something crazy

  3. Who Dat says

    Why aren’t we asking the question why Lamar signed this lease to begin with? Lamar is now trying to distance themselves from a problematic property owner who has no qualms about flying a blatant symbol of segregation & they had no problem paying him.

  4. Thomas R Giesken says

    Land owner rights prevail in ALL situations. You can’t do the “right thing” if it goes against the lease restrictions put out by the land owner. That is a clear violation of a lease agreement, even if it was verbal. The land owner would have no problem proving that he didn’t want that sign there….. obviously. If nothing was said and nothing is in writing then there is ability to post it. Still, all their Lessors now understand what just happen and it will be an advantage and an example for all competition going to head to head with them for a location.

  5. Just a sales girl says

    It all comes down to restrictions signed on the lease with the landowner. If there is a clause that restricts political advertisements then that would be a reason not to run the ad and why even ask if that clause is in there and the guy’s flying that “flag” next to the board on his property. If there was no clause then I would not have contacted the landowner in the first place, I would have just run it. This article says “they wanted to know” meaning Lamar contacted him. By asking him and then going against his permission, they knew they were burning the location. It’s probably a low-performing board they were letting go in August anyway. Now it’s just good publicity for Lamar to use this story for some feel-good self promotions.

  6. MICHELLE says

    Good for Lamar! Sometimes taking a stance is better then worrying about the repercussions. That owners true colors are showing! I hope people continue to stand in the way of people like Mr. White! I will never understand why people celebrate a flag that represents slavery and a lost battle.

  7. Michael Baker says

    If the landowner is explicitly saying the lease won’t be renewed because of the content of the message, it seems like a potential violation of freedom of speech (or maybe lease terms?), and therefore a legal case. The decision by Lamar to post a BLM message in the face of racist resistance is pretty straightforward (unless one values incremental revenue more than human rights). The bigger question is whether this confrontational tactic of in-your-face messages is effective in actually converting racists like this landowner. Does it help us see each other as people? The risk is it’s more heat than light… but of course, better to speak than be silent.

  8. John says

    Lamar did not do the right thing in this situation. The property owner and Lamar discussed the creative before install and the property owner rejected it. Lamar still posted the creative regardless knowingly the lease was up in August. We personally secure leases way before the leases are due as in a year to six months prior. Maybe, Lamar wasn’t going to move forward with this lease as August is days away. This is not a good look for Lamar in the market in-regards to the relationships between them and the landowners.

  9. John says

    Lamar tends to say one thing, do another…as a former employee, you can’t trust what the company says but their actions speak volumes.

  10. Glyn Williams says

    Interesting move on Lamar’s part and noble indeed. It’s a tricky balancing act between whether the property owner has the right to approve client/creative copy in their lease/sales agreement. Assumption 1: he doesn’t have the right to turn away copy. Assumption 2: Lamar has no qualms with upsetting this property owner or wanted to walk away from this unit anyway and decided to do so in a very Mic drop fashion. And I applaud them for doing so.

  11. No Fear No Favor says

    Thank you for the comment John Doe. It is interesting you deem this an example of Lamar making a ‘stand’. One poster which may be removed in rural North Carolina, does not represent a ‘stand’ in light of their abundant resources, namely hundreds of thousands of displays at command by Lamar. They possess a greater high jump bar and capacity to “sacrifice”. You are correct in your observation our role at OOH Today. We endeavor to provide OOH Industry leadership through sharing information while tapping legitimate experience providing a voice to the many who are unable to be heard. We will continue to monitor that the OOH high jump is not lowered and call those out who do.

    You are correct, we are questioning the move, however if you read more carefully, you will note our comments did not question the content of the message. If you check our record on writing on diversity in OOH and our position on BLM to date, it is clearly supportive and overwhelmingly beyond others in the Industry. We are not looking for medals and have yet to discover anyone to award them too. It will be of great interest to many should Lamar choose to address the Pittsboro details.

  12. No Fear No Favor says

    Volatile potential indeed Grey Vick. Thank you for observations and sharing the conformity point. It will be interesting follow up in the next few weeks.

  13. No Fear No Favor says

    Thank you Thomas Giesken for shedding valuable additional information which would apply to the situation. Clearly you know our business.

  14. No Fear No Favor says

    For a self described ‘just a sales girl’ clearly you have superior experience beyond the sales department. Spot on comments. I am not so quick to agree it is good publicity to use for self promotion. Arguably it could be, but there are more effective means to promote and Lamar has never been one to embrace something by chance or potentially out of their control. Thank you JASG

  15. No Fear No Favor says

    Thank you for your comments MICHELLE!

  16. No Fear No Favor says

    Solid comments and well summarized Michael Baker. The level of your philosophical and moral observations are sound and appreciated . Thank you.

  17. No Fear No Favor says

    John, from a strictly business perspective, one could agree with your comments. And while we would agree with the business side, the moral dilemma remains. Our experience with Lamar’s leasing department is they are a very buttoned up group and historically not likely to allow a timeline for renewal to pass so near expiration date.

  18. No Fear No Favor says

    Thank you Glyn Williams. Indeed a very Mic drop fashion and as is the case in most Mic drops, applause follows.

  19. grandstand somewhere else says

    The fact that Lamar reached out to the lessor and got a negative response is the most important thing that happened here. Whether they wanted the location down and chose to make this a publicity stunt with all the good feels I assume it gave them is outweighed by the message it sends to all lessors, current and future. This would make me think very long and hard about allowing them to have a location on my property and if I did allow it ,the lease would have documented restrictions in it.

    Fumble by Lamar

  20. grandstand somewhere else says

    The fact that Lamar reached out to the lessor and got a negative response is the most important thing that happened here. Whether they wanted the location down and chose to make this a publicity stunt with all the good feels I assume it gave them is outweighed by the message it sends to all lessors, current and future. This would make me think very long and hard about allowing them to have a location on my property and if I did allow it ,the lease would have documented restrictions in it.

    Fumble by Lamar