South of the Border: Billboard

Established in 1949, anyone that has driven the I-95 corridor has seen at least 20 South of the Border bill boards. Present day, there are around 175 billboards north and south from the Virginia/North Carolina state lines to the South Carolina/Georgia state lines. At one time there were more than 250 unique billboards from Philadelphia, PA to Daytona Beach, FL. Many of these billboards are on I-95. They are also north and south on Highway 301/501, east and west on Highways 9 & 17. There are a few billboards on I-20. Here are more examples of the billboards.

Alan Schafer, had a vision similar to “build it and they will come”. That’s true, if they know about it. With billboards lining the the east coast, it was impossible to not be curious enough to stop at South of the Border in an extremely unassuming location. If not for the 100 foot tall statue of “Pedro”, no one would stop in Hamer, South Carolina. If you blink, you miss it. Even on the way to the beach.

Although Myrtle Beach is on the way, it isn’t that close to the location of South of the Border. However, using a beach name that was visited by people around the United States, Schafer was smart enough to market items people would use at the beach.

Objective: Attract visitors
Target Market: Kids, adults, vacationers
Call to Action: Visit South of the Border to buy gifts and food
Value Proposition: Save money. Beach shops near the beach can be expensive. This advertisement is attracting beach goers to stop at this store for more bang for your buck.

Auto Zone: Window Decals

The store is located off of a busy street located in Durham, North Carolina. There is car traffic, but there is also foot traffic (sidewalks leading to city trails makes it accessible to pedestians). Accessibility to pedestrians is perfect because if you are having car trouble and your car won’t stop, maybe Auto Zone has what you need!

This set of side windows displays 5 window clings of combination specials for like products. Bundles are a great way of attracting customers to your business because most people want to feel like they are getting more than what they are paying for.

These color advertisements on the window are great because while you may be attracted to the bright colors, you can still see in the business.

Objective: Sell auto parts
Target Market: Mechanics, Do It Yourself People
Call to Action: Make a Purchase
Value Proposition: Save money

Pressure Washing: Yard Sign

This is the face of small business or “side hustle” marketing. Yard signs are cheap, but can yield much success. If it works, it is a great return on investment.

This simple white sign with black writing on the end of the natural area was strategically placed this sign on the pathway to the Main Street from a Lowes Home Store.

Objective: Attract home owners
Target Market: Homeowners
Call to Action: Purchase service
Value Proposition: Low price on low cost advertising

BoJangles: Yard Sign

BoJangles is no stranger to yard signs. I have seen them advertise products this way before. They probably even had this one (not so) tucked away in a closet. It’s relevant now because the unemployment rate is currently as high as it has been in decades. Businesses with dining rooms are also experiencing challenges in the current economy. More people are staying at home, thus more people are cooking.

There are some; however, that cannot deny the savory taste of BoJangles. This sign does two things: it tells us that the company is still open for business and they are looking to expand their team.

Objective: Apply for a job
Target Market: Unemployed citizens
Call to Action: Seek employment
Value Proposition: Employment opportunity

Latino’s Diner: Street Menu Sign

The street menus are so effective. There are some people in this world that are creatures of habit and will go to the same places over and over. When you are in a new city or a new country, that’s not always possible. You can look on review apps like Trip Advisor, Yelp, etc. to see what other people are saying about the best places in town to eat or you can simply take a chance.

I have stopped at new places to eat strictly off of seeing the street menu sign and what they were serving/offering. This approach is hit or miss, but the restaurant got the business regardless!

This method is great for the business, even if it isn’t a sign like this, because it allows customers to see the menu without having to wait for a table or even go inside.

Objective: Attract customers to eat in their restaurant
Target Market: Hungry People Walking By (Foodies)
Call to Action: Come inside and eat our food
Value Proposition: Value. Most companies are going to list menu items that show that they have variety or moderately priced food options.

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  1. Hi Elaina,
    Nice work on your ad selections. I chose to use the South of the Border billboards in my analysis as well as I genuinely believe that this company has displayed excellent traditional ways of marketing that have drawn millions of people. I enjoyed the research you did on Mr. Schafer too! When I looked into South of the Border I found some interesting info here: about the criticisms Mr. Schafer received regarding Pedro and his recognizable broken English. It was interesting to note that while some may think the ads are humorous (and tacky); I’ve never really thought about the how Mexicans or Mexican Americans feel about the use of Pedro along I-95.
    On another note, I am totally all for street menus! While they are more difficult to identify and subsequently examine from a vehicle, companies can certainly acquire the business of those on foot and may even make a few cars turn around (if they have vigilant drivers or passengers who are hangry and on a mission to find food!) Great work 🙂

    1. Hi TK!

      Great minds think alike! South of the Border was instrumental in so many people’s childhood road trip memories. I remember as a child playing a game with my siblings to see how many signs we counted on the way to our grandparent’s house. While we have innocent memories of these signs, great point! There is another not-so-great message that impacted a culture. The time that these were made was during a time where a lot of culturally insensitivity existed and quite frankly was overlooked. In marketing, cultural competency and awareness is so important.

      You have a great point about the street menus, as well. There is a limit to their success!

      Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Hello Elaina,

    You picked some great ads. I think another famous brand that puts a ton of ads that say X miles away is Wall Drugs.

    I really like your call out to yard signs for a small business. It would be interesting to see if I could get any local business by putting one up. I may try to create one way during this pandemic, thanks for reminding me of it!

    1. Hi Jacob!

      I absolutely think that you would see a return on putting out yard signs. The placement of your signs will be critical to the success, so keep that in mind when you make that decision. Color usage will matter, too. Certain colors draw people’s attention to certain things.

      Best wishes!

  3. Hi Elaina,

    I enjoyed your selection of ads, particularly the “side hustle” or yard signs you have included. I hadn’t thought about those in the context of outdoor ads but you’re right, yard signs can be very effective. Obviously, they’re also cheap, so depending on the type of business you have this can be a great way of getting some marketing off the ground. And thanks for noticing and including the fact that the pressure watching sign was placed on the pathway to Lowe’s. Sign placement, regardless of size and type of business, is critical to reaching the target audience and cutting into a share of the profits.

    Thanks for your work!

    1. Hi Trip!

      Yard signs are a great way to market your business in a cheap way. Particularly is your place them strategically where there will be foot traffic or slow traffic to allow people time to grab your contact information. I appreciate your feedback and thoughts on my intentional inclusion of sign placement. It really is critical achieve the intended objective.


  4. I enjoyed reading about your ad choices. The one ad that brought back a sense of nostalgia was the “South of the Border” billboard. While I have never seen this billboard, it made me think about the billboards I saw when I was younger on the way to the beach at South Padre Island Tx. I remember seeing billboards 40 miles from the beach and having my curiosity piqued. The strangest part I noticed when I got older was the fact the ads were way more impressive than the stores that they were advertising. But as a kid, my parents would humor us and stop at the stores only to walk out empty-handed because there was nothing of any great value. Three kids pestering the parents to stop at a store will cause more shoppers to stop at the location, which I guess is the whole point in the first place.

    1. Thanks, Dustin! Everyone has really enjoyed the South of the Border billboard ad. I love how it had brought so many of us together and reminded us of different times in our lives. Ditto! With the thought put behind the billboards, but not the shops/property itself, it makes me think that Alan Schaffer should have gone into marketing!

  5. Elaina,
    the Bojangles sign is interesting, because it shows that there are some jobs out there during tough times. Unfortunately, many of these jobs are on the lower end of the pay range, and working around other people. Now that we’ve found that my kids won’t be going back to school, we’ve told our 16 year old that now is the time to find his summer job. There’s so many jobs that he’s qualified for, and there is low interest now. That will most likely change in the next few weeks as we enter warmer months and COVID-19 slows.

    1. Tripp,

      You’re right! I wonder if there is another underlying message with advertising employment opportunities in this way – the value of the job? Maybe that’s thinking too deep, but maybe not. Finding a job in this climate (not even the economy) is going to be tough. It is insane the effects that this pandemic is having on literally everything. Maybe your son can consider an internship that has a remote opportunity. Just a thought.


  6. You have a great variety of signs in this analysis! I didn’t even think to look at banners in store windows. But, it does showcase the many different approaches that a business can take to get their messages out to the different audiences. Everyone responds a little bit differently to these types of ads, so it is great to get a reminder of some of the approaches available.

    1. Hi Colby,

      Window decals are great because they aren’t permanent and they are fairly inexpensive! I have thought about using them as welcome signs for our company when someone new starts. I thought they would be a nice touch to promote staff appreciation and awareness. They can certainly go a long way.


  7. Elaina,

    This was a great analysis and you really thought outside the box on some of these outdoor ads. I didn’t even think of car or window decals at all! Thanks for bringing those in! I also have seen the South of the Border signs (all million of them), but some how overcame the curiosity to stop! They certainly catch your eye, especially when you are driving down a particularly monotonous stretch of the highway!


    1. Caitlin!

      Thanks for your response. It is funny that the window decals are one of the first things I thought about analyzing for this assignment! I am always fascinated with how creative companies can get. I also pay attention to them with places that I frequent because they are normally advertising something that I may want to purchase. You are a strong person not to stop at South of the Border! I remember going as a young child and knowing that there wasn’t much there. Several decades later a family reunion took me back. There was still nothing to see (ha!). If nothing else, those signs are nostalgic.


  8. Hello Elaina!

    I find it great that you, Tiffany King, and I all 3 did South of the Border for our outdoor ads. The ads and the story behind them are just too much for those of us that have driven through South Carolina to forget when asked about billboards. Your analysis of all the ads are great! Good job!

    1. Jeramy,

      Thank you for taking a trip down memory lane with me. You’re absolutely correct, South of the Border signs are etched in my brain. My dad is from a very small town about 10 minutes away from SOTB, so those billboards are childhood memories that I cherish. They remind me of trips to see my grandparents.


  9. Elaina,
    I liked that you went out and sought out some eye catching outdoor ads. Simple and effective signs are sometimes the best bang for the buck! Almost every North Carolinian knows exactly where to find the South of the Border ads! they definitely know how to catch people attention when they get inside of the 40-50 miles of it on I-95!

    1. Jake,

      Thanks for the feedback! I was over due for a walk outside for fresh air one day and I figured I should kill two bird with one stone. I saw so many outdoor advertisement opportunities. Some of them were ones I noticed and sought out, others were a “hm, I never thought about this type of advertisement in this way”.

      Long live South of the Border billboards, literally!Those signs are in some of my earliest childhood memories! They have been connecting people (like us) for decades.


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