Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

June 9 , 2016

by Lindsay Moore

Sign on Mount Washington is gaining value and national attention

Sprint has cheered on Pittsburgh from Mount Washington for over a week now.

The cell phone company's ad was wrapped around the old Bayer sign last Tuesday, proclaiming “Pittsburgh WINS with Black & Yellow.” Despite the city's cease-and-desist letter issued to Lamar Advertising and Sprint on June 1, the sign is still on display.

It's possible to see that billboard during a commute through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, while buying a hot dog in PNC Park and even at home during national sporting broadcasts if the cameras pan over the city for “beauty shots.”

So, while the cease-and-desist letter noted the city intended to seek penalties that could rack up a bill for both Sprint and Lamar at a cost of $1,000 per day mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty told the Post-Gazette last week, the ad space may still be worth it.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based media analysts Joyce Julius and Associates are in the business of measuring eyeballs and translating them into cash.

To measure the profitability of the old Bayer sign, variables such as where viewers are when they see the sign; how frequently they see it; and what perspective they're seeing it from would have to be factored in, according to Eric Wright, Joyce Julius president and executive director of research.

Outdoor advertising is usually the best investment when trying to reach a wide audience for the lowest cost, Mr. Wright said. “The price point versus the number of eyeballs — it always scales very favorably toward the advertisers,” he said.

For a previous project, Joyce Julius considered the size, location, brand exposure and types of media at play for the 2014 Nascar Sprint Cup series, which was seen by 5.3 million viewers according to ESPN partner Jayski.

Joyce Julius calculated that Toyota earned $65 million worth of exposure during the races through one hour and seven minutes worth of cumulative air time and 24 mentions during the broadcast, according to a statement from Joyce Julius.

Mr. Wright hasn't seen the sign on Mount Washington and couldn't give an estimate as to how many people have been seeing it, but the fact that the advertisement functions on multiple platforms would ramp up its price point, he said.

Although the sign has a wide audience, it does not have a controlled message, Mr. Wright said. The Sprint sign does not advertise a certain product or service, it only increases the cell phone company's brand recognition.

Still, Sprint did this in a highly effective way, said Bob Gilbert, University of Pittsburgh clinical associate professor of business administration.

“There is a rabid interest amongst Pittsburghers and their sports teams,” Mr. Gilbert said. “Any advertisers who choose their messaging and partner their brand with one of our sports teams, that is going to increase their brand perception.”…