(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘pop culture

“I think that I shall never see / A billboard lovely as a tree. / Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, / I’ll never see a tree at all.”*…

Billboards date back (at least) to Egyptian dynastic times. They’ve become a staple of modern advertising– and like the rest of that field, are being redefined by technology…

As a concept, billboards are simple. They’re just a big board conveying a message. But their use requires a purpose and before the Industrial Revolution, only governments and rulers really had a need to communicate with large groups. Then Jared Bell had a need of his own.

The explosion of commerce in the 19th century resulting from the steam engine and other innovations created much of our modern world. But it was the invention of lithography in the 1790s by Alous Senefelder allowing for the mass production of printed color flyers and posters that allowed for modern billboards. Jared Bell was an event promoter in 1830s New York seeking to drum up business for the Ringling Brothers Circus. And that’s the story of how Jared Bell became the father of billboards

In any case, the idea quickly caught on… by 1900, “a standardized billboard structure was established in America,” allowing for national advertising campaigns from newly emergent national brands like Coca-Cola and Kellogg. And with the popularity of the automobile along with the reshaping of cities to suit roads, billboards became a staple of modern life in many countries or wherever market share was up for grabs.

The future is digital, in all fields but especially with advertising. Static billboards that need to be replaced by hand are giving way to digital displays that can be updated remotely. In some instances, this also allows for some pretty nifty interactive content. 

Smartphone apps are letting consumers directly participate with digital billboards, as seen in campaigns from Audi and American Eagle. A British Airways campaign from 2013 called “Look Up” used a massive video screen in London’s Piccadilly Circus to feature an ad with a child following real flights that passed overhead…

Advertisers are now placing big bets on digital alternatives with one research group expecting a 7.5 percent compound annual growth in the market until 2028. Currently, the digital signage market is worth more than $20 billion. With digital billboards representing just 4 percent of the outdoor advertising market, it will be quite a will before they have anywhere near the ubiquity of traditional options.

Advertisers focusing on billboards are especially bullish on digital technology because of increased competition for attention and consumer awareness. One advertising firm framed the issue almost like an existential crisis, “Today’s consumers are much smarter and well informed than they were 30 years ago; therefore, merely repeating a message to the average individual is not a viable strategy for return on investment. In 2021, along with a great website design, Google SEO, and content creation, advertisers will need to incorporate technology and customer preference in their advertising models to keep the spirit of advertising alive.” 

Like any good salespeople, this increased competition isn’t a problem but an opportunity to incorporate digital billboards into advertising campaigns because “experts also believe that out-of-home advertising is making a comeback because consumers are getting tired of the constant bombardment of advertisements on their phones.”…

The evolution– and the future– of the billboard, an object that very much tends to keep pace with the times: “Billboard Empire,” From Andrew Egan in @readtedium.

* Ogden Nash


As we obey, we might recall that on this date in 1982 the #1 song in the U.S. was “Don’t You Want Me,” by The Human League (and “the second British Invasion”was underway).


“How sad and bad and mad it was – but then, how it was sweet”*…


Gracing the pop charts in January, 1967

The first Superbowl, January 1967

A best-selling board game, January, 1967


In theaters, January 1967

A briskly selling novelization, based on a hit TV show, January 1967

Much, much more at Pop ’67!– “meanwhile, 50 years ago…”

* Robert Browning


As we watch what goes around come around, we might send sharply-observed birthday greetings to Edith Wharton (nee Edith Newbold Jones); she was born on this date in 1862.  A novelist, short story writer, and designer, she combined an insider’s view of America’s privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to become a pre-eminent novelist of manners, writing humorous, incisive novels (and short stories) rich in social and psychological insight… and criticism of the upper class society into which she was born.

Wharton was friend and confidante to many gifted intellectuals of her time: Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau and André Gide were all her guests at one time or another. Theodore Roosevelt, Bernard Berenson, and Kenneth Clark were valued friends as well. Her meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald was described by the editors of her letters as “one of the better known failed encounters in the American literary annals.” (Nervous at being in Wharton’s presence, Fitzgerald embarrassed himself by telling her a long story of how he & Zelda had spent a night in a bordello, thinking it was a hotel.)

Wharton won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature for her novel The Age of Innocence, making her the first woman to be so honored.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 24, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Life seemed nearest to acceptable at four a.m…”*


Passages from pop songs, clips from movies and TV Shows, literary lifts, and real-life reminiscences:  The Museum Of Four O’Clock In The Morning.

* Wally Lamb


As we search for our slippers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1985 that the Miami Vice soundtrack, a mix of work by the show’s composer Jan Hammer and other artists’ songs used in the series, hit number one on the album chart, the “Billboard 200”– a position it held for 11 weeks.  Travel down memory lane: hear samples of each cut here.




Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 2, 2013 at 1:01 am

The Annals of Taxonomy: Getting into Alignment…

The Alice in Wonderland Alignment Chart

From Geekosystem, “The Ten Greatest Alignment Charts of All Time“:

… we can tell you definitively that alignment charts seem to be blowing up all over the place lately… For those not familiar with them, alignment charts draw from classic Dungeons and Dragons, breaking characters down by two axes: Law-Chaos (lawful, neutral and chaotic) and Good-Evil (good, evil, and neutral).  An alignment chart in meme terms, then, is a 3×3 grid comprised of nine characters from a given movie, game, or other pop culture happening.

Like this:

The Presidential Alignment Chart

See them all– from The Big Lebowski and The Office to Technology Pioneers and Dr. Who—  here.

As we consider our own places in the scheme of things, we might recall that it was on this date in 1907 that Pike Place Market, the longest continuously-running public farmers market in the US, opened in Seattle.  It currently serves roughly 10 million visitors per year.

Pike Place Market

One can’t be too clear…

Dan Meth, an animator, producer and director at Frederator,  has begun a project of epic scope and deep importance:  he has created the first two in a series of Pop Cultural Charts, each cleanly delineating critically-important aspects of popular phenomena.

The first is a depiction of the relative merits of each constituent in a series of renown trilogies:

For a look at the orientation of living room to kitchen in 21 famous sit-coms, click here.

As we marvel at the march of metrics, we might spare a thought for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s poignant study of a different kind of graphic; THE SCARLET LETTER was published on this date in 1850.

Title page of the first edition

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 16, 2009 at 1:01 am

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