The Blog

by Jim Copacino

Tasteful billboards? Yes, it’s possible.


One of the symbols of overweening commercialism in our society is the glut of screaming billboards that line city streets and highways.

But every once in a while, outdoor advertising stops screaming and decides to charm us instead. Copacino+Fujikado’s out-of-home campaign for the Seattle Aquarium is a case in point.

The Aquarium’s target audience is families with children 5-14. We set out to delight and entertain young people and their parents with “fun facts” about the amazing animals on display. We created a world of surprising and educational bits of information, accompanied by artful illustrations, on billboards and buses throughout our area.

People loved them. They shared the images on social media. They asked for copies of the ads. The Aquarium turned the headlines and visuals into merchandise on sale in the gift shop. Most important, people came to see these amazing fish and mammals (attendance was up in 2014).

As it turns out, people don’t hate billboards. They hate being shouted at talked down to. They respond when advertisers offer entertaining, intelligent, and relevant information.

That’s why the Seattle Aquarium recently won Best Of Show at the prestigious Obie Awards sponsored by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, recognizing creative excellence in out-of-home advertising. (Pardon us for a moment while we pat ourselves on the back.)

Thank you, Seattle Aquarium for your support and partnership. And thank you, jellyfish, sea otters, octopi, and all you other dwellers of the deep for being so darn fascinating.