Are billboards an effective use of advertising budget? Until fairly recently, Friday actually, I doubted that they were. I believed they functioned more to reassure consumers that they had bought the right brand and less to convert potential consumers into new sales. I believed they cluttered up our highways in an endless panorama of meaningless jargon. In some way I still think I am right. However… as we drove past a billboard for some very expensive Swiss watches my husband began a conversation.
Husband, nonchalantly: “Now, that’s a nice watch.”
Husband: “Do you know the watch used in Goldfinger was the first Seiko digital watch?”
Husband: “They’re selling now for like twenty grand.”
Husband: “You know I don’t want fancy platinum watch encrusted with diamonds. I’d like something classic and understated, like a stainless steel Rolex.”
Husband: “They’re not even that expensive only about two grand.”
This is about when I switched off altogether, to my detriment, for this conversation was to come back to haunt me only hours later.
Each Friday my parents-in-law entertain my offspring for a few hours. This is in part because they want to see their grandchildren and mostly because it is the only way they’ll see their son. As we waited for three small people to gather up their belongings, which by the way seem to breed and multiply once released from their bags, my mother-in-law began to chat about our upcoming wedding anniversary.
Mother-in-law: “How long have you been married?”
Me: “Eleven years.”
Mother-in-law: “You say that very definitely.”
Me: “Yes. We were married in 2000 so that it would be easy mathematically.”
Mother-in-law turning to son: “Eleven years, that is steel isn’t it?”
Round about now the cogs in my head began to turn.
Husband: “Steel? No really?”
The cogs meshed as I looked at his face and his eyes skittered away from meeting mine.
Me: “Steel. Hmmm. Stainless steel?”
Me: “Really, like, I don’t know, a stainless steel Rolex perhaps?”
Me: “Is that what you were on about? You want me to buy you a Rolex?”
Father-in-law, desperately trying to avoid imminent bloodshed: “Ah well, ha ha, you could always get him a lawnmower.”
Bloody billboards. This is entirely why we need gangs of vigilantes taking them down and protesting with signs and placards and catchy little slogans.