July 30, 2014
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I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for Events, PR musings

billboard-pm2Fans of John Mayer recognize that as the lyrics from his 2003 hit single. As the lyrics came to mind, I couldn’t help but giggle to myself—sitting there in my parked car, looking straight up and seeing this overwhelmingly large reproduction of myself. In the words of my friend James Macchiano, “You can check ‘being on a billboard’ off the list of things you need to do.

I can honestly say that appearing on a billboard was never on ‘the list,’ but I’m getting used to the new reality. The billboard is part of a multimedia strategy to promote the upcoming Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival, which returns to campus Saturday, May 2, after its successful debut last year.

The festival’s promotional budget is relatively modest, and advertising on a well-positioned billboard can be VERY expensive. A year ago, the cost would have been out of reach. Of course, I don’t need to tell what’s been happening with the economy lately, but it’s made such opportunities a bit more affordable.

You know what else makes it more affordable? Free “talent,” and that’s where Jane and I come in. Jane is the 6-year-old daughter of my coworker Ellen Shady, and Jane is every bit as cute and sparkling as she appears on the billboard. That probably has many of you wondering how the heck I made the cut (God knows I haven’t sparkled in years!). Well, you’ll have to ask Colleen McGuinness-Clarke, director of RIT Publications. She’s the one who put me up to it, and I can’t say ‘no’ to Colleen.

Credit the concept for the billboard to my University News colleague John Follaco, who spotted a photo from last year’s festival that showed a father-daughter team operating a remote-controlled blimp. There was probably a dozen other creative members of the RIT community who had a hand in making this all possible, and I commend everyone for the tremendous effort. It really looks great!

As for me, I’ve really had more fun with this than I had anticipated. Family and friends are getting a kick out of seeing it, many who have reached back to comment about it on my Facebook page. And since I have no expectations of changing careers to become an injury attorney or the Geico mascot, my days of looking down at you from alongside the I-490/I-590 interchange are soon to end. But at least I’ll never need to put that experience on my list.

 
  1. Brandon
    Apr 14

    Wow, being featured on a billboard really is a BIG deal.
    I've been following the event promotion here and there and it looks great so far. The Obama invite was a great idea!

  2. sue
    Apr 14

    This was my first billboard, too! I photographed the duo in my tiny studio, shooting 100s of frames so Jeff Arbegast, art director at University Publications, would have lots of choices. All within the timeframe of a 6-year-old girl's attention span. It didn't hurt that I had snacks for everyone to keep the energy flowing! It all came together with Jeff's compelling design for the billboard.

  3. Marcia
    Apr 14

    Paul, here's looking up at you! Saw the billboard and said, "Yes, that's my boss—always larger than life." And Jane is simply ADORABLE! Think you need to turn the photo into postcards and sell them next year at the festival (autographed by you and Jane of course).

  4. Ellen
    Apr 14

    Jane had a terrific time at the photoshoot. Kudos to Sue Weisler, who thought to have apple juice and granola bars on hand. Jane loved being a part of this! A photo of the billboard was put on her school's video newsreel that shows each morning, and she was mentioned in the school newsletter. It hasn't gone to her head, though (Paul, can you say the same??), and she still has to clean her room. Thanks to Jeff, Paul, John, Sue, Colleen and all.

  5. Joelle
    Apr 15

    This is so cool, congrads on fulfilling an unexpected goal, Paul! Where is the billboard located? On top of 86?

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