Unofficial Slogan Of Ford Remembrance

January 8, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — An unlikely partnership between the region's leading billboard companies has helped create a brand identity for President Gerald R. Ford's relationship to Grand Rapids during the remembrance, and possibly for years to come.

The brainchild of advertising agency startup Extra Credit Projects, the Gerald "Our" Ford message was visible last week to the hundreds of thousands of people who drove along U.S. 131, with a number of billboards plastered there and across the state.

"When we heard the news (of Ford's passing), we knew with the power of the outdoor medium that we could provide something with a lot of meaning," said Extra Credit Principal and Creative Director Rob Jackson. "It was really so simple, but it truly captures what President Ford meant to Grand Rapids and Michigan."

Jackson credits the local involvement of CBS Outdoor, formerly known locally as Viacom Outdoor, for getting the campaign off the ground with its commitment of the first U.S 131 billboard, near the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. No comment was available from the company on the campaign.

Lamar Advertising Co., also a national firm, then made a larger donation to the cause, including billboards in Palm Desert, Calif.

The Gerald "Our" Ford slogan also appeared on 100 posters that Extra Credit distributed throughout the downtown area, seen on display in many storefronts last week. Jackson believes the billboards, however, will have a more lasting impact.

"It's a very powerful medium," he said. "I don't think people come in and say, 'Hey, did you see that print ad in Time magazine?' But they'll say, 'Hey, did you see that ad on 131?'"

Jackson has seen dramatic responses from similar community campaigns in the past. As general manager of the Adams Outdoor Advertising office in Kalamazoo, he placed billboards commemorating the death of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and a Thanksgiving campaign related to the 2000 Presidential Election recount.

Jackson took over the outdoor advertising group of now-defunct Grand Rapids advertising firm Jager Group four years ago, where he managed the award-winning Air Zoo campaign and work for Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Budweiser and others. When Jager Group folded last May, Jackson and a number of former Jager staffers formed Extra Credit.   

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