Meadow Takes a Page from 'Wizard of Ads'

“In one critical respect, the advertising business is unlike any other. The idea that the customer is always right may be true in every other business, but it will lead an advertising person to ruin just as surely as if he hand jumped off a cliff. The ad writer who believes the client is always right will give the client what he requests instead of what he really needs. Everything will be roses in the short run, but when the campaign yields disappointing results, the ad person will get all the blame for the client’s bad idea.”

            This is an excerpt from the book ‘Wizard of Ads’ by Roy H. Williams. It explains the fine line that all advertising companies, including billboard companies, must walk. A billboard company’s main product is its artwork. If the artwork isn’t good, it’s not relevant how good the contract, the structure, and the service were. The artwork is what gets the client’s business customers.

            So, we must dedicate ourselves to making good artwork. And we do. But what do you do when your client is determined to put up bad artwork? You might think, why would a client ever want to put up bad artwork? Another excerpt from this same passage from ‘Wizard of Ads’ explains.

“People in business are uniquely unqualified to see their own companies and products objectively. Too much product knowledge causes them to instinctively answer questions no one is asking. This makes for extremely ineffective advertising. A few years ago, Pennzoil spent millions of dollars shouting to America, 'Pennzoil is the only leading brand of motor oil to meet the 1996 S.A.E. requirements two years early.' I’m still looking for the person they thought might care.

Never take the advice of an advertising person who is quick to agree with you. The first rule of every good ad consultant is this: The customer is always wrong.”

            This is a harsh rule of thumb, and there are exceptions but by and large, it is true. Clients need to convey what information they would like on the ad but it should be up to the billboard company to determine what information is truly relevant. For example, if a client wants to add their location they might want to be as specific as possible, so they want their full mailing address on the billboard. But the billboard company knows that a full mailing address is completely overkill and a directional would be better. Both parties have the best intentions, but it can cause a lot of conflict.

            Another common example is a client wants to list all of their goods and services on the billboard. They are proud of their variety of products and want the customer to be informed. But they’re getting in their own way, and a long list of text on a billboard will be too long to read and make people tune out the message altogether.

            Billboard companies have the task of telling their own clients that their ideas for artwork are bad and will ultimately make their own ad unsuccessful. Meadow has a very experienced artwork team that has been making amazing, eye-catching artwork for years. We want to give the best artwork possible to every client. Sometimes that will require tough conversations.

            It can be difficult to hand over that kind of trust to a company of people you’ve just met. But we look forward to earning that trust and blowing you away with our billboard artwork! You can find examples of our billboard artwork on our website under ‘Our Work’.

If you are interested in advertising on one of our billboards call us at 800-221-4114 or email us at!