9 Weird Billboards

Billboard advertisers try to make their messages distinctive and memorable, but sometimes they just end up weird. Below we look at nine of the more unusual and controversial billboards that have made headlines over the years.

01
of 09

Wyoming Has Gonorrhea

via Imgur

After receiving numerous complaints, the Wyoming Department of Health agreed to take down its health education billboard that declared, "Wyoming has Gonorrhea. Do You?" However, a Department spokesperson defended the blunt message, saying, "Obviously, some people are shocked, but it's getting attention for an important cause, which is what it was designed to do." [upi.com, 11/05/2015]

02
of 09

You May Not Be Guilty

via Weird Universe

Greensboro, North Carolina defense attorney Larry Archie stirred up controversy with a billboard that declared, "Just Because You Did It Doesn't Mean You're Guilty."  Other lawyers noted that, technically, his message was accurate in certain situations (such as self-defense), but nevertheless expressed regret that it didn't do much to improve the public image of the legal profession. Archie subsequently replaced the billboard with a less controversial one that read, "When You Need Justice, You Need Just Us." [Socially Awkward Law, 2/19/2015]

03
of 09

Free Shoes With Billboard

Eugene Register-Guard, 5/2/199

In 1999, the Shoestrings shoe store put up a billboard that read, "Bring in this ad and you'll get a free pair of shoes." This inspired three people to jointly take down the 70-pound sign and present it to Shoestrings. Eventually they got their free shoes, and the billboard company which owned the sign agreed not to press charges. A representative said, "It's funny, but it's not funny. We understand the humor of all this. We're sort of humorous people ourselves." Shoestrings said it would place a disclaimer on its next billboard. [Eugene Register-Guard, 5/2/1999]

04
of 09

Rabbit-Covered Billboard

via Weird Universe

In order to advertise its rabbit-meat pizza, which it was debuting in time for Easter, New Zealand's Hell Pizza nailed hundreds of rabbit skins onto a billboard. The ad declared that the pizza was "Made from real rabbit, like this billboard." The pizza chain insisted that the topping had a "beautiful subtle flavor." [Huffington Post, 11/04/2014]

05
of 09

Pubic Schools

via Jalopnik

In South Bend, Indiana a billboard was put up to promote the achievements of the local public schools. However, the ad omitted the "l" in the word "public". The company responsible for putting up the billboard confessed to making the mistake, insisting that neither the city or schools had anything to do with it. The president of the company said, "Four people looked at it, eyeballed it and didn't see the mistake, and those people all work for me. We take responsibility for it. We simply blew it." [upi.com, 9/22/2010]

06
of 09

What's Cooking?

via What's In Store

In Mooresville, North Carolina, the Bloom grocery chain advertised its new line of beef by means of a smell-enhanced billboard. An aroma cartridge at the base of the billboard released the scent of black pepper and charcoal, and a high-powered fan spread the smell around. [Huffington Post, 6/3/2010]

07
of 09

Topless Nun

via Twitter

An Italian clothing company created an uproar when, shortly before a papal visit, it erected a billboard in Naples showing a topless nun holding a rosary. In response to charges of blasphemy, the company issued a statement insisting that the timing of the billboard was entirely coincidental and that "there was no intent to blaspheme." [Time.com, 3/11/2015]

08
of 09

Armed Santa

via Twitter

In Chico, California, a billboard for a local gun range showed Santa Claus with an automatic rifle. Many local residents expressed their disapproval, including one who said, "The idea of this symbol of joy and giving holding an assault rifle, it's just so contradictory." However, the gun range shrugged off the criticism, claiming that it was planning follow-up ads featuring a gun-toting Cupid and Easter Bunny. [Washington Times, 12/21/2014]

09
of 09

Hitler For The Children

via Twitter

In Auburn, Alabama, Life Savers Ministries put up a billboard ad to promote awareness of the importance of children's education. The ad showed a group of smiling children beneath the message, "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future." These words were attributed to Adolf Hitler.

In response to numerous complaints, the church group eventually agreed to remove the ad, conceding that the Hitler quotation had been a poor, and confusing, choice. The founder of the ministry noted that it would have been smarter if they had used their second choice for a quotation, which was Herbert Hoover's statement that, "Children are our most valuable resource." [reuters.com, 6/3/2014]