GRAND RAPIDS, Mich, March 25, 2019—A number of billboards have been baffling West Michigan for two weeks, and the advertiser has finally been revealed.
The anxious-looking designs with handwritten words like neglect, abuse, and fear have been posted around the Grand Rapids, Michigan region, prompting a variety of responses and guesses as to what the meaning may be.
However, yesterday a new design revealed the message belongs to D.A. Blodgett–St. John’s—a local children advocate agency—in an effort to increase engagement in the weeks leading up to April’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The organization which offers services like adoption, counseling, foster care, mentoring and more partnered with Midwest advertising and design agency, Extra Credit Projects.
From cynics to proponents, speculations of who was behind the boards ranged from megachurches to PETA, to the visual representation of “what it’s like to travel US-131 during rush hour.”
Area residents took to social media to seek answers or express opinions about the mystery messages. Some online users expressed discomfort at the content, while others argued that the subject matter was important to address.
One Reddit post described the design as looking like “a collage my angsty 13 [year old] self would make.”
In another Facebook conversation, commenters had this to say:
“As unpleasant as it seems it did get us talking about it which may be the reason behind the campaign.
“I’m sure it is to make awareness of some form of mental health issues or abuse. It is not wrong the only thing wrong is people wanting to hide all the mental issues and abuse we have in society.”
“Pretty effective billboard at doing what’s the first job of all advertising… Getting your attention. I can’t remember the last time I saw people sharing a billboard in their social media feed.”
“There have been a lot of comments online that the billboards have made people uncomfortable” said Katy Buck, Public Relations and Marketing Manager for D.A. Blodgett–St. John’s. “Unfortunately this is the reality for many of the children and families that we serve in our community. Our goal was to evoke in viewers the same feelings that some kids face every day—anger, fear, frustration, confusion, angst–and to have the reveal visually express that D.A. Blodgett–St. John’s is a refuge from that.”
To learn more about D.A. Blodgett–St. John’s, visit www.dabsj.org.