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Two Great Truths —Bald Men Tell Great Stories & OOH Creative Needs to Light it Up

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by Nick Coston, OOH Media Buyer & Agent


Let’s not beat around the bush here, I have zero artistic ability. I can barely play a legible hangman game. But I know good creative when I see it and recently there hasn’t been much out there.

I do my best to ride the highways where there are plenty of billboards. I like seeing what’s running and I like seeing the message advertisers are trying to get across.

As we come out of this horrible stretch of a pandemic, if I was a betting man I would bet that the creative starting to reappear on the streets and highways would be explosive. Bright colors, big copy, huge faces. Simple messages making a key point.

But unfortunately, I’m just not seeing it yet.

message from Wrapify

What I do see is a lot of wasted space, a lot of small copy and muddled messages. In some cases I don’t even know what the product is they are trying to sell.

What do I see that looks good?

Personal Injury Lawyers. Energy Drinks. Coke. Netflix. Dunkin’ Donuts. The Gap. McDonald’s, but not all their copy, just some. Museums, especially the ones with the T-Rex’s on them.

These have distinctive copy that stands out. Half the time you don’t even need any words, just the graphics or photos, they say at all and when you’re driving 60 miles an hour sometimes that’s all you need.

But you know what my favorite billboard is this year? I bet it’s one a lot of you haven’t seen. But if you live and or drive around Chicago you sure as hell do.


That’s right, Restore Hair.  Brian Urlacher, the retired Chicago Bear middle linebacker as the star. Known for his shining huge bald head while he was a player, a great player, he now has a head full of hair. For anyone who lives in the Midwest and follows sports it makes a huge point on how the product is successful. But check out their copy, not only is it a huge photo of Brian and his equally huge head, but it’s simple legible copy that stands out and they generally only use large format static billboards. Lots of them.

all pictures of my dad and all my uncles all bald. At age 40

Every time I ride the Chicago market I always ask the people I’m with how many frigging bald people are in Chicago, there must be a lot? Then I look at all pictures of my dad and all my uncles and I realize they could’ve use this product, they were all bald. At age 40.

Well, I’m a big Brian Urlacher fan and I’m a big Chicago Bears fan so every time I see him on the hair replacement billboard I don’t even pay attention to the name of the company I just know they gave Brian Urlacher hair. I get that message, it works. It stands out. Even if there are three or four of them in a row.

Welcome to Chicago.

There’s one other bugaboo I have with billboard copy. I guarantee you if you took a survey matching big ad agency billboard copy versus local OOH companies, own in-house artist, that the in-house artist wins every time. They get it, they know what stands out and works. And they’re probably the some of lowest paid employees at the local branches.

Copy sells.

The next time you plan your billboard copy think about the big bald football player who suddenly has hair. Or a T-Rex.

You can’t miss them.

Nick Coston
Coston Booking Agency
An Indie Planning, Buying & OOH Agent
301 920-1100 office

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  1. Brad Getter says

    The Mcd’s sundial is a neat nerd out..

    The best outdoor I’ve ever seen was a giant (20’+ tall) 3D inflatable hand clenching money (left side of board extending over ends and top), a three-word headline – “home improvement loans” and a discrete Bank Of America logo lower right. Was a right-hand road level sign and with that 3d at the very road edge it was an amazing visual and expert use of the 14’x48′. San Francisco creative in the ’80s. That art stays with me to this very day as outdoor perfection.

  2. “That art stays with me to this very day as outdoor perfection”. The power of OOH Brad Getter. thank yo for your comments

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