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Iconic Yahoo! Billboard Leaving San Francisco Skyline

By @ 11/18/11 in Everything, Marketing Trends

Every so often a dynamic piece of design moves from being truly innovative and becomes a long lasting icon. Sadly all good things come to an end and in two weeks the iconic Yahoo! billboard in San Francisco gracing Interstate-80 as you enter the Bay Bridge will be coming down. The end of the brightly-lit billboard was a throwback to the dot.com era when the company was an internet giant yet managed to hold its place in an ever-changing market. Fast forward 10 years and the the landscape — literally and figuratively — has changed and then billboard will hopefully be remembered for being creative with a design that lasted longer than most outdoor campaigns.

Maybe it is the Gunsmoke of the outdoor advertising model where the sign stayed mostly the same with the simple back-lit letters was the only part that changed over the last decade. The San Francisco Egoist posted an enlightening history of the board told by Steve Stone was the Co-Creative Director and Robert Boyce was the Media Director at Black Rocket, the same agency that brought the Yahoo! “yodel” to the masses.

The truckloads of dot.com money saw startups chomping up the billboard landscape up and down highway 101 from San Francisco to San Jose and the Black Rocket team was looking to lead Yahoo! in the right direction. After a year of waiting for the perfect spot, the team brought the concept to the table.

“The idea of doing a single board came from us in the media group. Karen Edwards (Yahoo! CMO at the time) signed on with some blind trust that we would deliver creatively. The board was bought and the contest was on for these guys to deliver something big,” says Boyce. “I recall ideas that covered the entire gamut of predictable, to fascinating and impossible to produce. It was one of the more fun and exciting projects that I have been a part of.”

The team at Black Rocket definitely pushed the boundaries and the diligence shows how to move from a “big idea” in a brainstorming session to becoming a reality. Once the design was made, the team worked with Clear Channel (the owner of the board) to ensure it could physically be produced — would the weight be supported by the building’s roof, could the design be approved by all parties, what were the logistics and more.

It all worked beautifully and love the design or hate it, the billboard became an icon. As most outdoor campaigns run between two and six months, a 10-year run is impressive, especially as Boyce notes, “San Francisco is losing what has turned into an icon. That board pre-dates 9/11, Pac Bell Park, Facebook, etc.”

So what was your favorite Yahoo! billboard message?

[Images via Egoist]