I was driving in West Los Angeles today when I came across a billboard so strange I could hardly believe my eyes. From a distance I could see the words "Win a Free Booby Prize", next to an image of a voluptuous woman. At first I thought this was some kind of off-color strip club or plastic surgery advertisement. Boy was I shocked when I drove closer and saw that that the woman on the billboard had a blurred Jesus face!!!!!
So, why does this belong on an economics blog? It does because this is a great example of today's trend towards "viral" marketing. The makers of this billboard, whether they are plastic surgeons or eccentric Christian missionaries, are counting on people like me being so baffled by this ad campaign that they will go to "freeboobyprize.com" to find out what the heck is going on. And by posting this picture and writing about this I am playing right into their hands. But I can't resist. It is too bizarre to ignore.
This may turn out to be a success for whatever organization put this billboard up. I'm certainly curious. And if it is a success, there may be imitators with even more shocking and baffling billboards. But to return to a theme I've been talking about a lot lately, this type of bizarro billboard campaign would probably only be successful a few times. Imitators would face diminishing returns as the novelty of such ad campaigns wore off among the public.
So what is Free Booby Prize? I'm curious, but perhaps not curious enough to go to their website, because then I would officially be a sucker to this billboard.