The very first light pole banners were hung along Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois in the earliest part of the 1980s. They were a novel idea at the time – the brainchild of veteran and Chicago-area native Emil Harley. By 1982 however, Harley’s design was so popular, his business’ biggest challenge was replacing the many banners that were stolen right off the poles they’d been displayed on. (It’s said that a blue and white banner featuring an image of baseball legend Babe Ruth was especially popular with “collectors.”) Through the early part of the decade, demand for the unique advertising medium blossomed, and cities across the country commissioned their own light pole banners. The trend became a mainstay when the city of Los Angeles decorated for the 1984 Summer Olympics with thousands and thousands of light pole banners displayed throughout the Los Angeles area.
Their growth in usage only continued. They’re in all our favorite shopping districts, and they adorn the downtown light poles of Anyplace, USA with news of upcoming events or tidings of cheer for an impending holiday. And for good reason: They’re easy to install, change, or temporarily remove for holiday decorations or adverse weather events. But marketing specialists know that the love for light pole banners isn’t just founded on functionality.
Light pole banners are well-regarded for the same reasons as other print marketing staples like personalized postcards and concert posters. Light pole banners manage to mean something beyond their stated purpose; they aren’t just an effective marketing tool, they’re a symbol. They become an essential part of a city’s visual landscape. They’re a tangible, visible feature that’s as indelible as an ornate courthouse or a beloved mom-and-pop diner. This is true for cities and towns of all sizes. (Not to mention amusement parks, shopping centers, retirement communities and college campuses.)
And that’s the art of Light Pole Banners: good, effective advertising that fits well into the setting that surrounds it. And with ease of production of modern light pole banners, along with increased wear resistance through modern engineered materials, light pole banners are as valuable and affordable as ever – excluding perhaps, Mr. Harley’s famous Babe Ruth light pole banners that were first hung all those years ago.
And light pole banners are even more useful than they were then as well. For those who still understand the value in non-digital marketing, driving time remains one of the best times to tap into potential customers’ valuable attention. Commuters can’t help but notice a kind message and bright colors billowing in a fall breeze, especially when those light pole banners are an essential part of that city’s commuting experience.
Businesses and cities across the country should recognize the value of such a beloved form of advertising. Especially during times like the COVID-19 crisis, when fear and concern drive us towards the things we know as stable and familiar. Light pole banners are a perfect place to print an encouraging message to reassure residents or customers and encourage safety and certainty for shoppers and employees and local businesses. They offer any city, town or business a chance to add a truly beloved and memorable feature to their visual landscape. As Mr. Harley learned in Chicago, the only downside to advertising with light pole banners is that customers and residents might love them a little too much!